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Work-Life balance. The ability to turn it on for work, but switch it off when you’re home. Easy to say but hard to do.

Even more so during lockdowns that have forced home and work together for so many Australians. It’s no surprise then that good work-life balance came out top in the desires of Australian workers in the 2021 Randstad Employer Brand Research. Workers are in need of a break. So what can we do to support our people?

At Randstad, we’re finding that without the lure of exotic holidays our employees aren’t taking as much leave as usual. Given that many of our teams are flat out supporting businesses to find talent in a rapidly growing economy, we too are at risk of burnout. Managers are sensing their teams are pushing it. Tired, on edge and running out of steam, we’re now looking at ways to encourage employees to take leave and offering support to managers to give their teams breathing space. 

Our Randstad Employer Brand research also showed that almost a quarter of Australian workers are actively looking for new opportunities. In a talent scarce market the last thing you want to be doing is hiring and training new employees to cover those who’ve left. So how can we avoid burnout and retain our best talent? Over the last year, we’ve tried to develop some new ways to support our people through this pandemic.

make a change

Try finding ways to improve how your teams work. Ask your managers if there is a way that tasks can be moved between busy and less busy teams. Automating processes can get rid of the paperwork and free up employees to do more stimulating and meaningful work. Lastly, if workplace burnout becomes a risk in terms of delivering exceptional service, then encourage your people to take a break. At Randstad, we’ve offered loyalty leave of one extra day per year for up to five years. Extra leave comes at a cost, but we believe our people will come back stronger than before.

increase the number of small breaks

While holidays can go a long way to rejuvenate the spirit, so can periodic breaks throughout the day or workweek. It’s known that taking small breaks can help people feel more productive and happy. We’ve seen this work well at Randstad. Our team is offered a wide variety of wellbeing activities, which we call, Be Kind to Your Mind, that allows them to take a break, such as yoga sessions, free financial advice clinics or mindfulness courses. The hard thing is getting your people to know it’s ok to take a break. Leaders should encourage their employees to prioritise their own well-being.

mental health

The economic turmoil caused by the pandemic has caused our mental health to decline, some even calling it a crisis. The lasting effects will impact workers and organisations for years to come. Thankfully, there are many steps that organisations can take to safeguard the mental health of individuals in the workplace, remove the stigma around mental health suffering and create a stronger, more robust and resilient workforce. According to the Talent Transformation Team lead at Randstad, Adrianna Loveday, leaders should work to demystify mental health as a starting point. 

“Organisations need to make the conversation around mental health both more palatable and also relevant for their workers. Organisations need to dedicate time and energy into identifying the symptoms of mental health conditions, understanding the critical challenges that their workers face, and the psychological health and wellbeing of those people as a result of those challenges,” she says. 

when you leave work, really leave work

Not taking work home with you was hard before the pandemic with digital tech, but in lockdown, it’s almost impossible. People have been forced to work from home, so how do you separate the two? Managers must remind their team about the importance of switching off. Leaders must lead and not contact or expect a reply from staff outside of work hours. It’s also up to employees to build structure in their workday to delineate work from home life. Identify ideal “no-work” times and agree with your team and boss that you are not expected to be available during those times. Once you have that established, use it to your advantage! Grab some dinner with friends, do something special with your children or go to the gym but most importantly, unplug and unwind.

Lastly, it’s important that we support our people. They must understand they can come to their leaders and discuss issues with workload to avoid burnout. As a leader, you may have to prompt this conversation. People need to know that they should not feel ashamed or inadequate if they believe burnout is creeping up on them. What’s most important is to recognise it and fix the situation. Our people are the glue holding our organisations together, so it’s critical we take care of them.

To read more about what Australians want from their employees, download your copy of Randstad’s 2021 Employer Brand Research here.