Do You Tell Your Employees to Partake in “PDF”?

Work Life Balance Signpost Shows Career And Leisure HarmonyI know your first reaction – what does a document file have to do with employees?
I had that same reaction as I was driving to work and heard about this on the radio.
Catchy, though, don’t you think?

So what does PDF have to do with employees and their performance?
P = Play time
D = Down time
F = Family time

Modern technology has been an asset to carrying out and improving our jobs, but has also proven to be a detriment – we have let it run away with our lives. The best way to keep happy and engaged employees is to help them maintain balance in their lives.

Play Time
First argument I expect to hear is that “employees need to earn their paychecks by working the full amount of time” or “an employee’s focus should be on how many billable hours they can pump out on a daily basis.” Am I expecting companies to pay employees for time to “slack off?” No, but incorporating some fun into the daily work routine does help alleviate some of the stress that builds up and does wonders to improve employee morale.

What are some examples?
Community service projects = An activity either on-site or off can break the tension of the workday and build a sense of teamwork among your employees…especially with those that don’t normally interact with each other on a daily or even weekly basis. With the holidays coming up, you can do something like organize a food drive or cards to the troops. Employees like the distraction from their everyday duties and it makes them feel good knowing they are doing something to help others. In some cases, companies can also publicize their employees’ efforts – so it becomes a win-win for the company.

Early morning or lunch time workout = Ask one of the employees to lead a brief 20-30min workout session that can be as simple as a 1k walk or a weight loss contest. Remember that line from Legally Blonde about working out – “working out gives you endorphins and endorphins make people happy!” It also helps improve your employees health condition which, in turn, helps decrease costs associated with the company’s health insurance when it comes to renewal time.

Down Time
The invention of email and smart phones leave us connected to work 24/7. If employees aren’t given time or feel that they are allowed to “disconnect” from work after they leave the office, work begins to consume their lives and affects their relationships with family and friends. And when they have problems at home, its going to become a “problem” with their attitude at work.

Even with salaried employees, don’t take advantage of them being available after normal work hours. Make it a company-wide practice to stop sending emails after a certain time of the evening. If you must send an email, specify that you are not looking for an answer until the next day.

Employees feel that they will be looked at poorly if they aren’t available or don’t respond and some companies have taken advantage of this. If you want to change the attitude your employees have, start with giving them this down time and letting them know that you are. And…think about it – if you are emailing after hours, are you giving yourself the needed down time in your life?

Family Time
This doesn’t apply to just your married employees or with children – this applies to everyone. Family time is an opportunity for your employees to keep balance in their lives for studies show that time spent with loved ones, even just an hour, helps them center themselves again and increases their happiness. They need that connection even if they don’t consider themselves close to their families.

Understand the employees put pressure on themselves by trying to put work first while keeping family important. They are stressing themselves out when they feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of both. Work with them. Be flexible with their hours if they need to leave early or come in late to take care of a family matter. Most will try to find a way to make up the time on their own without having a Supervisor beat them up with it.

Don’t demand or require that employees be present for off-hours company activities. Ask them and you will get more buy-in than simply expecting them to “if they want to keep their jobs.” You are causing stress in their lives that you will then use against them later when they develop a “bad attitude.”

This can be most important for those employees that have to travel for their jobs or be away from home for long periods of time. Give them a day off after returning from a trip to spend time with their family and not have to catch up on work right away. Show compassion for them as they try to work both sets of responsibilities and you will find that your employees will develop a greater sense of loyalty to the company and give that 110% without having the threat of their job hung over them.

Remember: Happy Employees = Productive Employees
Its not all about work – its about balance.

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