Achieving Work-Life Balance: 7 Tips for CFOs and Their Teams

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance, once a seemingly unattainable dream for some, is now a reality for many, new Robert Half Management Resources research found.

Eighty-two percent of chief financial officers characterized their work-life balance as good or very good, a sentiment shared by 77 percent of office workers about their level of balance.

While mostly positive, the survey showed room for improvement persists. Nearly one in five CFOs (17 percent) said their work-life balance is just fair or even poor, and 14 percent of workers noted their situation has worsened in recent years.

So, how can business leaders and employees at all levels enhance their work-life balance? Here are seven tips, tailored for managers and staff:

1. Define what work-life balance means on an individual level.

Takeaway for managers: Recognize that each of your employees has different needs. As much as possible, avoid holding every team member to the same expectation, and offer a menu of benefits and perks employees can choose from to help them better balance work and personal demands.

Takeaway for workers: Take into account your career and personal objectives to determine what work-life balance means for you. You won’t be able to achieve the right level of balance for your individual needs without completing this step.

2. Communicate.

Takeaway for managers: Let your team know you support their efforts to find balance, both in words and by fostering an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their needs. But don’t stop there: Promote the programs available to help employees. Make sure you’re actively communicating options for flexible schedules or remote work arrangements, for instance.

Takeaway for workers: Talk to your manager about your goals. As part of the discussion, show how any changes you seek will also benefit the company. For example, by working an earlier schedule, you can help your department expand its service hours.

3. Establish benchmarks.

Takeaway for managers: Work with staff to identify parameters that are both realistic for their position and measurable. Helping employees achieve work-life balance is challenging enough when it means something different for everyone, but it’s almost impossible if there are no set boundaries.

Takeaway for workers: Like any goal, work-life balance needs to be tracked. Whether it’s scheduled times, weekend hours logged or unused vacation days, find a way to measure your progress.

4. Make changes as necessary.

Takeaway for managers: Make work-life balance a regular agenda item in meetings with staff. If things aren’t working out — either for you or your employee — address the situation promptly. Don’t simply command from on high, though; find a solution that will work for both of you.

Takeaway for workers: If your current plan isn’t working, talk to your manager about changes you can make. He or she may have additional options you can consider.

5. Lead by example.

Takeaway for managers: Try leaving the office at a decent hour as often as possible. If employees see you don’t always burn the midnight oil, they’ll follow suit. Similarly, avoid flooding them with messages outside of normal business hours.

Takeaway for workers: Everyone has the power — and responsibility — to lead by example. If you have strategies or tools that help you meet your goals more efficiently, share them with your colleagues.

6. Tap help.

Takeaway for managers: Monitor your team’s workload, and bring in additional interim and full-time personnel when needed. For example, for peak activity periods such as tax season and year-end, financial consultants can provide subject-matter expertise and help alleviate the demands on your team.

Takeaway for workers: Keep your manager up to date on your workload and ask for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your supervisor would rather reprioritize projects or bring in extra support than see initiatives fall through the cracks or work quality decline.

7. Unplug.

Takeaway for managers: Recognize it’s OK for you to take a break, too. When you’re on vacation, set specific times for checking in if you can’t check out completely.

Takeaway for workers: When away from work, avoid the temptation to check email simply for the sake of feeling like you’re better tied to the office. This busywork only distracts you from your personal pursuits and, ultimately, saps your work productivity.

There isn’t a single, simple trick to achieve work-life balance. But financial leaders have a better chance of attaining it — and helping their teams to do the same — by making it a top priority for themselves and actively fostering a workplace culture that promotes balance.

Additional resources