In our connected world, every small business owner struggles to develop and maintain a work-life balance that works for them.

But what about the rest of your team?

You can’t be responsible for your staff’s personal choices, but you can set policies that encourage a healthy work-life balance. After all, if you’re searching for balance yourself, your employees probably face a similar struggle.

With a few simple adjustments, you can make the quest for work-life balance a little easier for the team that keeps your small business running.

Try one or more of these strategies:

1. Set communication standards

It’s easy to encourage your team to step away from their electronic devices when they leave work. But if they see an email notification or other communication from you, they’ll feel pressured to respond. After all, if the boss is working, shouldn’t everyone?

Try drafting after-hours, non-urgent emails with a tool like Boomerang, Yesware, SendLater, or Right Inbox. Choose when you’d like the email sent, and rest easy knowing your employees aren’t staying up late to rush that project you just asked about.

You can even schedule responses if you’re struggling to get to inbox zero but don’t want to bombard your recipients at an odd hour.

2. Encourage working smarter, not harder

It may be inspiring to see your employees hunched over their desks early in the morning and late at night. But just because they’re at work longer doesn’t mean they’re completing more tasks. Challenge your team members to use a productivity tracker to see how they’re truly spending their time at work.

Some trackers require logging your productive hours manually; others will work with your computer to tell you how long you use different tools like email and document editors (and yes, even Facebook and Twitter). Checking on your habits with the help of one of these tools can help kick productivity into gear.

While you’re challenging your employees, consider trying one of these tools yourself. Showing a bit of vulnerability can help your staff relate to your shared productivity challenges.

3. Enforce lunch breaks

Everyone knows you must allow your employees to take breaks throughout the day. But heating up leftovers in the microwave and taking them back to your workstation may not be the healthiest way to approach the traditional lunch break. Encourage your staff to take advantage of opportunities to step away from their work. Not only does taking a proper lunch break to provide a chance to recharge physically; it can also allow you to take a brief walk outside, read a magazine or grab a cup of coffee with a coworker — all activities that can help provide a new perspective on the afternoon’s tasks.

4. Empower your employees to say “no”

Everyone wants to please their boss and shine at work. But this desire often conflicts with pressure to take on additional projects. Empower your employees to say “no” when a request would cause extra amounts of stress on top of their regular workload. A staffer may feel compelled to switch shifts, stay a few minutes late to answer a client email or even take on an extra task from you. But they should feel confident in setting their limits as to how much extra work they can take on and still perform well.

How can you encourage work-life balance at your company? Meet with a SCORE mentor to review some options — and maybe even learn about some additional time-management tips!

About the Author(s)

 Bridget  Weston

Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the Board of Directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE.

Restaurant owner standing behind cafe counter with his employee