New Year’s resolutions often focus on losing, quitting or saving something. Whether it’s losing weight, quitting cigarettes or saving money, resolutions emphasise a desire to be healthier and happier. For small business owners, aiming for a healthier, happier business in 2015 starts by making others the centre of attention — specifically employees.
Any small business owner will tell you happy employees create a healthy business and an even happier business owner. That’s why business owners need to develop workplace strategies that improve the work-life balance of employees.
While work-life balance continues to be the catchcry of the modern workplace, many businesses struggle with making this goal a reality. Last month, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency released a report around Australian employers finding that while nearly half of employers (47.7%) have policies on flexible working, only 13.6% have a strategy for it . Similarly, 45.2% have a policy for supporting employees with family and caring responsibilities but only 13.2% have an actual strategy in place.
The cusp of a new year presents a perfect opportunity to start anew by building strategies for better work-life balance for employees and a healthier company in 2015. Here are three ways to get started.
1. Build in some face time
We should encourage our workforce to work where best suits the individual. When employees work remotely, whether from home or a different office or space, it is important that face-to-face communication isn’t completely sacrificed. Video collaboration tools enable those who choose to work remotely to still enjoy face time with their teams.
This isn’t to say that video conferencing should replace in-person meetings completely — there are certainly business situations where in-person interaction is both valuable and necessary. You may even want to plan strategic meetings offline with the view of organising follow-up meetings online.
When catching up with your remote workers, use the time effectively. Make sure you have regular check-ins to evaluate workload, as time pressures won’t be as obvious as those employees physically in the office. It’s also important to be intuitive in detecting problems from what you don’t hear as well as what you do.
3. Work collaboratively
Think about the tools and strategies you can put in place to foster collaboration amongst all employees regardless of where they are based. Beyond the obvious video call or instant-messaging tools, remember that technology is your friend in all areas — use it to enable file sharing and document editing on the go to improve productivity or consider an enterprise social network platform to take unnecessary noise off of email.
While flexible working won’t suit everyone, it’s important that practical strategies are put in place to look after every employee’s needs whilst maintaining a cohesive team. If you can focus on the strategy rather than the policy, you will be rewarded with a productive, agile and highly mobile business.
So before you vow to lose those 10 kilos over a glass of bubbles at 11:59pm again, perhaps now is the time to commit to getting your proverbial ducks in a row, ready for your most successful business year to date.