How to Improve Work/Life Balance When Leadership Won't

Four tips you can use today to improve the company culture in your workplace.

Helping employees find a better work/life balance doesn't have to be a top-down process. When leadership won't make it a staple of company culture, an office manager can use his or her unique role to step in, implementing or making changes that will improve work/life balance for all.

Here are some ways you can make a difference as an office manager.

Devise a System to Track Vacations and Coverage

As the office manager, you can help managers set up a shared vacation calendar, along with a system to ensure every employee has coverage during their time off. The calendar will also ensure that managers don't approve overlapping vacation days between co-workers who cover each other.

This way, work still gets done, and employees on vacation can truly relax with the knowledge that someone is watching their inbox or completing some of their tasks. You can reassure your co-workers further by encouraging them to unplug completely during vacation days and helping them set up automated, out-of-office messages.

Suggest Ways to Give Outstanding Workers Extra Time Off

One of the biggest complaints when it comes to work/life balance is time off. While you might not be able to affect your company's vacation policy, incorporating days off as awards for employee recognition programs can help workers de-stress and come back to work refreshed.

You can help make this a companywide initiative by speaking to your manager and offering to help create a program that provides rewards to employees doing excellent work. The program could honor outstanding employees on a regular basis and provide awards like days off, half-days, extended lunches or a set of remote working days.

Make Areas of Your Office Feel More Like Home

You can also try to make the office feel like home, so co-workers feel comfortable and at ease. Here are some options:

Make the lunchroom inviting, to encourage co-workers to eat away from their desks and with each other. You can request to replace small tables that only seat a few with a larger, family style table to increase the sense of community.

Turn an unused office or conference room into a peaceful space or wellness room. Include comfortable seating, newspapers, magazines and anything that may help relieve tension, like stress balls, a miniature Zen garden or even yoga mats if upper management approves. Unused office space can also provide a private area where workers can make personal calls without fear of being overheard or interrupted.

Make use of any outdoor space you have, and encourage employees to use it. Brainstorm and pitch to management different types of family friendly events that you can hold on the grounds.

Educate Company Leadership and Encourage Official Policy to Reflect Work/Life Balance

Your company culture may not emphasize work/life balance right now, but that doesn't mean you can't take a leading role in making a push for change. If leadership in your office is reluctant to introduce policies or perks that would foster more balance for employees, they may simply not understand the benefits such changes offer. Educate upper management to ensure they know the value to the company, not just the employees.

Businesses can benefit from policies that improve work/life balance because they'll employ happier, more productive and more efficient workers who are less prone to burning out or producing poor-quality work due to stress and task overload. Fostering work/life balance can also make it easier to recruit top talent and retain excellent employees.

With just a few simple changes like these, you can make the office a more balanced environment where everyone can thrive.