5 Ways to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance in 2017

Part of our #NewYearNewOffice campaign to help you stay healthy and productive at work.

Work-life balance is essential to employee satisfaction. In fact, work-life balance is more important to some employees than their salary. (Kronos Employee Engagement Infographic) For millennials, work-life balance is the most important factor to consider when choosing a job. (Forbes) It’s more important to them than finding a sense of meaning at work and having opportunities to progress.

In the United States, 60% of US workers have a poor work-life balance. (WIVB) We rank with only Japan and Australia in scoring the worst in work-life balance. (Knoema)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few simple ways that might help you strike a good work-life balance in an always-on world. You can take action now!

1. Telecommute to break up the routine

Telecommuting is on the rise, and it’s clear why. There are a number of significant positive factors that come with telecommuting. In a 2015 PGI Global Telework Survey, the number two positive reason associated with telecommuting was work-life balance. Telework also eliminates or reduces commute time, and increases employee productivity.

While some of the pitfalls of telecommuting include feeling disconnected, poor communication, and too many distractions, you can overcome these obstacles by choosing shared workspaces, using proper communication tools, and setting a daily schedule for yourself. Also, consider that almost 90% of teleworkers rate their supervisor’s remote management skills as “good” or “very good”.

According to the aforementioned survey, nearly 70% of people want to work outside the office, at least occasionally. But many people don’t telecommute. A change of scenery can be beneficial to your overall satisfaction, enabling you to work more flexibly and spend less time commuting and more time getting things done. If you need a satellite office or place to work for an hour, day, month, or longer, you can start discovering options on LiquidSpace.

2. Say “thank you” because gratitude is a key to satisfaction

There are two simple words that you can say every day to help those around you feel appreciated, respected, and more satisfied. Those words are “thank you.” According to a Kronos Employee Engagement Infographic, more than 75% of employees with a direct manager think their boss could do better at showing appreciation.

Of those surveyed, the number one solution employees offered for showing more appreciation was simply: saying “thank you” more. Nearly 40% of those surveyed said if they could trade places with their boss, they’d say “thank you” more. More than half of all employees said that getting a “thank you” from a direct manager would give them a high sense of satisfaction at work. If two simple words can have such a great effect, why not use them more often?

The Farm SoHo, in NYC.

Whether you’re the boss or not in your company, giving thanks is always a good idea. 70% of employees surveyed said that getting a private “thank you” and positive feedback from colleagues at all levels gave them satisfaction in the workplace. Having happy, satisfied people around you is bound to make you happier too. So next time you’re considering how to improve workplace satisfaction and work-life balance, start by giving out some thanks!

3. Making friends at work makes it easy to collaborate

Being disconnected at work makes it harder to balance your work-life. A Kronos Employee Engagement Infographic investigated what factors employees missed from their previous job. The number one thing employees missed? Their co-worker relationships. Nearly one third (32%) of employees said that co-worker relationships were the number one thing they missed about a previous job. So enjoy them while you got them.

Having people to confide in and relate to in the workplace can make your work environment more bearable, for sure, but it can also help you collaborate more effectively and productively with your team. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to get started making friends at work, see tip #2. Those thank you’s have a way of coming back to you.

4. Take your vacation days, damn it!

American employees work 1790 hours per year, on average, more per year than employees in any other industrialized country.

Average number of hours worked per year by employees in industrialized countries.

Working so much wouldn’t be as much of an issue if employees took time to relax too, but in the US, people often don’t take their paid time off, opting instead to work as much as they can. According to Knoema, on average US employees fail to take 17% of their paid time off. One study by Harris Interactive found that Americans left an average of 9.2 vacation days unused. That figure, from 2012, was up from 6.2 days in 2011. (NYT) With Americans skipping out on vacation so often, it’s obvious why work-life balance is such an issue in the US!

Being relaxed and well rested is not only essential to work-life balance, but also to productivity. Dro. K. Anders Ericsson has studied workplace productivity for years, with some of world’s top athletic and intellectual performers. He says that being relaxed and well rested isn’t just a one-time requirement, and employees should practice relaxation on a daily or weekly basis. (NYT)

Dr. Ericsson identified a key issue in the workplace. He said: “Our bodies regularly tell us to take a break, but we often override these signals and instead stoke ourselves up with caffeine, sugar and our own emergency reserves — the stress hormones adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.” Remember that a shot of espresso isn’t a real break, and neither is a candy bar. If you have vacation days, take them. Your brain will thank you, and so will your company, because as you relax you’ll become more productive in the workforce.

5. Turn your cellphone off for 5 minutes and relax

So coffee and candy aren’t real relaxation techniques, and neither is a quick game of candy crush. For that matter, neither is taking a break to text your friends or family. If you want real relaxation, you have to distance yourself from overactivity, and one of the main sources of overstimulation is the cellphone.

If you can’t turn off your cellphone, at the very least use it to relax. Download and use one of the many meditation apps available, e.g. Headspace or Calm, or watch this two minute video on how to train your monkey mind.

A 2016 study, featured on WIVB, shows that most people have an unhealthy work-life balance. Doctor Kenneth Snyder, a professor of neurosurgery, argued that having your cellphone on at all times is a quick way to get pulled back into a stressful working mindset. He said, “If you can find even 5 minutes a day to meditate and just unplug, that could help reduce stress level hormones and give your body the break that it needs.” When you’re always stressed and always worried about work, your body releases unhealthy chemicals, taking on an influx of cortisol and insulin.

Unplugging for a moment can help you relieve stress and resolve these chemical imbalances. For five minutes a day, turn off your cellphone, don’t think about work, and don’t talk about it either. Your body will thank you! (WIVB)

Want to be happier, more satisfied, and more productive? Get your work-life balance in check. Follow these five simple tips and you’ll be on your way to a more balanced life. Thanks for tuning in.

Originally published at blog.liquidspace.com.