As the economics of our businesses goes through ebbs and tides. Our work life balance tends to follow those highs and lows as well. Although it seems like the tides get higher and the ebbs mean we work harder and longer for less pay. This happens to business owners and to our employees.
It is ok to work a bit longer on some occasions and it is also ok to take time to enjoy our families, friends a bit of quiet time and hobbies. As employers, we need to be ever watchful of our team members work life balance. I know that everyone says the old days of working for the same employer for twenty years has long past and is no longer part of our culture. Actually, I have been discovering that no many of us have been able to retain people from our modest beginning where we all took out the trash and now have all grown into roles of management and more pressing responsibilities. I declare that the days of loyalty are gone. I think that this may be changing because hiring and training costs are escalating especially with background checks and drug testing that we all need to do within the hiring process.
In our company we started a process of really wanting to consider each one of our team’s work life balance. This was particularly important to us because we are a 24 x 7 shop and some of our team members work remotely. Honestly the remote team members were on the list of folks we felt may be working too many long hours. They valued the lack of commuting and the ease of scheduling so much that through our work processes it seemed they were working a lot of nights and weekends and putting more hours in than we had intended.
You may think that we were really feeling as though we were destroying our team’s personal lives. We really had concerns that we would burn out some really key people that we need to grow and service our customers. In some cases we were correct but in most cases, guess what we were wrong. The craziest part is that they told us we were wrong. That many of our staff members felt that they needed more work and more responsibility and wanted to participate more in the growth of our company.
Our process was to create two key questions to each person with a one on one conversation. Then I shut my mouths so I could listen to our people. The question was. How can Soaring Eagle help you maintain a healthy work life balance. They understood the question. They shared insights as to how we can automate things to make their lives easier. They shared bugs in our management software. They share ideas about how to handle meetings more effectively. Some had ideas that were a bit far fetched like I don’t like this task can you take it away? When explained that the task was actually key in getting payment from the customer they said ok I understand.
Except for times when I felt I needed to respond. I literally spent my time listening and writing down what they had to say. I find that I listen better when I write notes. So when I really need to listen I write. Also, it was important to collect their insight anyway and after we finished the conversation and I cleaned up the notes. I shared the notes with the individual.
After I collected the data. I went through the notes and reviewed common themes. Then we worked together to solve the issues and implemented them. I also looked at the time it took per individual to complete tasks that could be automated. If one person is taking several hours to complete a task I can automate in our system. I not only help them gain a few hours of peace, but the I continue to save money on the second, third fourth …. Persons as I hire them to do the same tasks. In my mind I am able to get a very large return on this one little issue over and over again.
During our conversations, I was able to really get to know each person. Remarkably instead of getting a lot of whining and complaints we ended up having some solid conversations about our company culture, how we can all work to improve our working relationships and how we really all do care about the goals and dreams of this company.
We have decided to turn this small engagement into a twice a year process in order to stay engaged with our team members and to improve our culture. Thus hopefully retaining our staff and creating an atmosphere where everyone can have a work life balance that fulfills our minds, souls and creates paychecks.
Author Penny Garbus
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