Work hard, play hard. Work-life balance. Life-life balance. More and more companies around the globe are jumping on these trendy company culture mottos—and with good reason. But what do these statements mean? And how do they translate in “real life” at organizations?
As a Millennial who has worked for nearly a decade at scrappy tech startups, global organizations and now freelance, I understand what our generation expects when we hear those terms. Sure, there are hacks that an individual employee can do to make daily life easier, but right now we’re focusing on what companies can do.
Here are my 5 real work-life balance tips that companies should be doing if they advocate for balance. Plus, I’ve added in a handful of top tech companies in Denver, Colorado that seem to get it.
5 real work-life balance tips for companies to start doing
1. Give your employees mastery, autonomy and purpose
David Pink infamously (in the business world, at least) illustrated the top three intrinsic motivators for employees: mastery, autonomy, and purpose. In other words, give employees the space and freedom to master what is most important to them. Let them run with their ideas and projects by encouraging self-direction or autonomy. And give employees a real purpose or meaning that they can get behind.
Take Xero, for instance. This online accounting software could be like all the rest, but they’ve made it their purpose to help small businesses succeed. And everyone at the company seems to support it. Employees are quoted saying they’re helping change the world through small businesses or are giving back to local communities who support them. Everyone works toward one clear goal.
Okay, so this isn’t a work-life balance hack to help cut down on emails or shorten meetings. But give employees a chance to master their work, give them autonomy and a strong sense of purpose, and those “work-life balance” office perks don’t hold all the power.
2. Provide open, flexible and safe workplaces
Depending on what your employees want (both collectively and as individuals), this point could be as simple as providing stand-up desks, quiet spaces or communal collaborative tables in the workplace. Or, perhaps your employees need more flexible workspaces, such as the freedom to work from home or choose their hours and location. Let your employees work where, when and how they want—and trust that they’ll get their work done (see autonomy).
Mapquest, for example, is a mapping technology that helps people get from point A to B in the best way possible. It also has a flexible workplace, open office concept, and good company culture because of it. Located at the heart of downtown Denver, this modern office space has something for all types of workers—including cafe space, couches and collaboration areas.
On a slightly different note, let’s talk about OpenTable. This company is the leading provider of technology that simplifies dinner reservations at restaurants around the world. At SXSW 2018, OpenTable launched its “Open Kitchen” that advocates for safe, positive work environments for all. “No matter who you are or your role in a restaurant,” says Christa Quarles, CEO of OpenTable, “whether you work in the kitchen or front of house, everyone deserves a safe seat at the table… Together, we can bring about real change to ensure a positive and safe work environment for all.”
Sometimes work-life balance requires a few barriers to be removed and safeguards to go up.
3. Encourage health, wellness, and fitness—and provide the time and space for it
This is a pretty classic work-life balance tip that many companies seem to be getting right. After all, healthy employees tend to be more engaged, motivated, happier and work harder. Consider offering your employees medical care and health perks or take it even further by providing fitness and wellness classes, healthy foods and snacks and organizing team workouts.
Take Zayo Group, for example. They help the world stay connected by providing ethernet, data storage, networks, cyber security and so on. Plus, they love the company mantra “work hard, play hard.” And they certainly do play hard. According to their website, they’ve hiked more than 145 miles of local hiking trails as a team.
4. Encourage a social, fun workplace culture
Sometimes work-life balance requires breathing a little life—or fun, socializing—back into the business. Take Baker Technologies, for example. This company provides CRM for the cannabis industry, helping dispensaries grow their business. Not only do they snack like champions, they’ve also been known to go on some pretty epic trips. We’re talking about a four-day, staff-only Mexico trip for some “relaxed” team building. Not for everyone, but sounds like fun.
“As a growing startup, culture is the lifeline of the company,” says CEO Joel Milton to Forbes. “Establishing a collaborative workspace, company norms and a strong recruitment process is only part of how we at Baker strive to maintain our culture. At the core, maintaining culture is really about instilling employee relations outside day-to-day tasks.”
5. Encourage real work-life balance
Last, but not least, lead by example when it comes to establishing a culture of real work-life balance. That means allowing your employees to “leave their work at the door,” literally. Encourage relaxing weekends by not setting hard deadlines on Mondays. Set work boundaries such as reasonable deadlines, workloads, and expectations, no emails after hours and closed on weekends and holidays. Give your employees the time, space and means to find a work-life balance that works for them.
Here at Foodee, we value work-life balance so much that we’ve built our business around it. We believe in taking breaks, having a social moment with colleagues and eating good, local food at work. Because sometimes it’s the little (delicious) things in life that count. And to us, sad desk lunches are the antithesis of work-life balance.
Foodee is a great option to help bring work-life balance to your office. Sign up to see if you qualify for a free lunch and learn on us!