• Jim Canfield

Embracing Work-Life Balance Around the Holidays


As the song goes, it's the most wonderful time of the year. But it's also one of the busiest. As we try to finish up those to-do lists, wrap up those year-long projects, and get our year-end ducks in a row before we take off for the holidays, it's easy to end up throwing away any semblance of work-life balance in favor of burning the midnight oil instead.

Here's why it's important to push back on that end-of-year rush - and to keep balance and well-being top-of-mind.


Why Work-Life Balance Matters

In a highly connected, highly automated world, we're all doing more than ever - and the boundaries between our personal and professional lives are increasingly blurred. But when we keep adding more to our plates, our motivation, pride in our work, and productivity all suffer, resulting in diminishing returns over time. Importantly, failure to find that critical work-life balance doesn't just stop with us. Leaders who are "workaholics" model that behavior to their team members, who, in turn, behave in the same way. Over time, this results in low morale, a diminished company culture, and high turnover.

This can particularly become an issue at year-end, where the perceived need to wrap up projects and tasks by a set date is in conflict with the desire to spend time with loved ones. Being mindful of your team members' multiple loyalties - to their work, but also to their families, friends, and individual spiritual or religious traditions - will help you chart a course that keeps workloads manageable.


Ways to Embrace Work-Life Balance

There are many ways to help your team members find that all-important work-life balance as the holidays approach. Some examples include:

  • Prioritize projects. Know what has to be done by the end of the year and what's "nice to have" to start off the new year with a fresh to-do list. Loop in extra personnel and resources for those critical projects so that you can meet those deliverables without stressing out your team.

  • Embrace flexible working. Whether it's flexible hours or hybrid working, encourage your team members to work in the way that works for them. With school out, religious holidays approaching, and family visits happening, flexible working will help reduce stress among your team.

  • Say "no" to more. Make it a point to veto overtime at this point of the year - and avoid starting new projects as the end of the year approaches. It's easy to see 31 Dec as a mental cut-off date, and you'll have your team scrambling to get their work done. Focus on the big, existing things instead.

  • Encourage winter Fridays. Summer Fridays are a popular perk, so why not their winter counterpart? If your team has gone above and beyond, give them Fridays or the occasional afternoon off as thanks. This will engender goodwill that will keep your team working efficiently and productively.

  • Provide travel vouchers. Encourage your team to take time off by providing food, travel, or accommodation vouchers. If you've taken the initiative to buy them, your team will be more likely to use them.

  • Be mindful of all traditions. We live in a diverse world, and workers from different spiritual and cultural traditions will require time off at different times. Make a point to accommodate these requests - don't just assume that everyone is represented by the standard holiday dates.

Of course, openly communicating your support of these approaches - and following them yourself - is vital to ensuring uptake. If flexible options are on the table, but leadership doesn't take advantage of them, then other members of your team will assume that they're tacitly verboten.


Lead a Balanced Life With CEO Tools

If you're ready to embrace balance in your organization over the holidays and beyond, then CEO Tools is for you. Our seven-step learning modules will give you proven, actionable insights and strategies to help set the direction of your company - and your organizational culture. Try them today and build a more valuable company that's easier to manage.


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