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Work-Life Balance in Our Crazy Busy World

In this advice column, we tackle industry challenges.

Q. I confess I’m a workaholic. I run several retail shops that are open 7 days a week, and I’m always managing my business while I’m at home, taking my kids to the park, or traveling. I realize I can’t always expect the same from my employees. What’s the right work-life balance for me and my staff?

A. Only you can answer the first part of the question: what’s the right work-life balance for you? As a manager, you have more on your plate, but your pay probably reflects that. Your staff members, however, might be paid less, and there are different expectations for them.

First off, it’s great that you care about these questions. Many bosses can have blind spots when it comes to what their staff members are going through. Having happy employees translates to less turnover and happier customers.

Many employees in the so-called “gig economy” say they have better work-life balance than those in a traditional work environment because there’s more flexibility in their schedules. But flexibility needs to come from both management and employees — an employee who’s not allowed to have a say about her own schedule isn’t benefiting from this fluid system.

As a boss, you have the power to choose the tools you use for scheduling and internal communication. This is one of the most important steps you can do to be proactive and prevent future scheduling snafus. Creating calendars with multiple employees doesn’t have to be a headache (solutions like Sling make it easy).

Do your workers want two consecutive days off? Do they prefer to not be bothered on weekends (whichever days are “weekends” to them)? Realize that everyone has different boundaries about work and leisure time. Try to respond to them quickly about scheduling requests so they don’t feel held hostage — and resentful — about their work situation.

And though you call yourself a “workaholic,” even you need time to breathe, exercise and take a break. You probably don’t realize it, but you set the tone and example for your employees. Working hard, but also being vocal about how you’re taking time out for your personal life, lets employees know that you’re not a machine. This makes for a healthier workplace overall.

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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.

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