Thanks to technology, we're never far from our jobs. With e-mail on our phones and cloud computing delivering the network straight to the iPad in the kitchen, work can go on around the clock—but it probably shouldn't. Here are five reasons your small business will be more successful if you recognize the importance of a work-life balance.
1. You'll Attract and Retain Top Talent
The best employees want to work in the best environments.
"Being perceived as an 'employer of choice' because of work-life balance policies can provide a competitive edge for attracting and retaining talent," says Lynda Zugec, managing director at The Workforce Consultants, a human resource consulting firm with offices in Canada and New York.
"Employees who are positive about their workplace help to foster a positive attitude," Zugec says. "They are more likely to be committed, flexible and responsive to business and customers' or clients' needs."
2. Your Employees Will Be More Creative
"Being creative and innovative requires exposure to new ideas and people," says Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, a management research firm in Boulder, Colorado. "If an employee sits at a desk for hours on end, they're not reading books, having conversations and engaging in non-work activities that can fuel idea generation. Without a steady stream of fresh thinking, businesses become stale and stagnant. This is a dollar and cents issue for an employer."
3. Your Employees Will Be Healthier
Employees who are physically and emotionally healthy will be strong contributors to your small business.
Steere cites studies that have shown working long hours, especially stressful ones, has adverse health effects on employees, including a higher risk for coronary heart disease.
Steere says research has also shown that skipping sleep is a bad practice.
"Some employees who work long hours do so at the expense of sleep," Steere says. Sleep studies have tied a lack of sleep to health problems, including weight gain and diabetes. An exhausted employee isn't as likely to get the job done.
"Inadequate sleep can produce the same effects as drinking alcohol—an impairment that causes mistakes and creates safety hazards," Steere says.
4. Your Employees Won't Burn Out
"While sometimes business owners wish the day could go on forever, we need to realize that our employees need upkeep," says Joel Gross, founder and CEO of Coalition Technologies, a Web design and marketing firm with offices in Los Angeles and Seattle. "You wouldn't run your car 24/7 and expect that it keeps functioning at its peak. Your car needs some time to rest. It needs to be cleaned and it needs to have maintenance done to ensure its longevity."
Gross says it's crucial for employees to get away from the pressures of the job and rest and recharge. "Being in constant contact with your job can sow seeds of resentment and bitterness," he says.
At Gross' company, the workday doesn't begin until 9 a.m. so parents can take their children to school and those who need extra sleep can get it. Everyone is encouraged to take a full hour for lunch somewhere outside of the office.
"Sitting in front of a computer can only last so long before you need a break and a change of scenery," Gross says.
5. You're Building Your Future
Embracing the importance of work-life balance is not only good for employees, it's good for the future of your small business.
When you attract and keep top talent and foster in them creativity, good health and loyalty, you'll see results. "My employees are my most important asset," Gross says. "Helping them find balance not only benefits them, but me as well."
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Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.