By Kim Sharbatz

While everyone understands that working is necessary to make money, a labor overload can be exhausting. In fact, it’s reported that America is the most overworked developed country in the world, leading to widespread issues like increased stress levels, burnout and weight gain. As an employer, your job is twofold: sustaining your company and supporting your employees. Maintaining company-wide work-life balance is one trend employers have embraced to keep their employees happy, healthy and productive.

Work-life balance is the concept of prioritizing both your career and the activities outside of work that keep you healthy, like quality time with family and friends, exercise and sleep. In the United States, employees and employers struggle to strike an equilibrium: many employers believe they are providing a structure that supports work-life balance, yet many employees disagree.

Some employers may be reluctant to accept the expectations employees set to better manage their lives, but studies show that corporate environments that maintain a healthy work-life balance have increased productivity and improved workplace wellness. If you’re wondering how you can create an environment that supports the work-life balance of your employees, consider taking these next steps:

1. Provide Healthier Food Options

When catering a company meeting, it can be tempting to order comfort food or fast food favorites and soft drinks to please everyone. Branch out with menu options at your next conference to provide your employees with healthy, low-fat meal selections. Increasingly, catering companies are offering healthier options, like gluten-free, vegan, and organic meals.

Ordering healthier foods for mandatory lunch meetings, like salads or wraps, guarantees your employees have access to at least one healthy meal a day. Make a smaller change by replacing the bowl of candy in the break room with fresh fruit. Many businesses are investing in fresh fruit delivery to their offices, reducing the need to schedule and pick up. Providing your employees with nutritional meals and snacks is a proactive way to bring healthy options into the workplace.

2. Organize an Office Exercise Competition

Doing things in groups can help people create and maintain a habit. Incentivize your employees to participate in physical activities by organizing a program for monitoring a variety of easy, moderate, and challenging exercises. If you’d like to start small, arrange a step-counting competition between employees, recording the number of miles each person walks in a week.

Create a method for earning raffle tickets and offer up a gift card for the winning employee. For companies with more advanced physical aspirations, count all physical activity, awarding points based on difficulty and length of time. An office-wide initiative is so effective because it both ignites the spirit of competition and unifies a group in participation.

3. Schedule Downtime

As an employer, you understand that employees respond to the example and expectations you set. Bearing that in mind, lead from the front, capping your own work-related activities at the same time each week.

If your employees are salaried and scheduled to work set hours, encourage people to adopt efficient time management strategies, enabling them to leave their work at the office and “unplug” from the business world after completing each workday. Encourage everyone in your office to begin adding time to their project management systems for “Project Family.” Block this time as unavailable for phone calls and meetings, and adhere to the schedule just as you would if it was an important client meeting.

For busy employees who use their calendars to schedule their work and personal lives, seeing allotted downtime on the schedule can help individuals carry out this task.

4. Encourage Attention to Health and Wellness

Prompt your employees to have routine medical check-ups by offering an “unsick day.” Many companies are allotting employees a half-day per quarter to make standard health and dental check-up appointments. And, when possible, help make those health visits more affordable for employees to access. For example, if employee sponsored dental insurance is not offered, provide employees instead with a dental discount card as an incentive to schedule their biannual dental visits.

For example, a dental discount card with a low monthly fee can help employees save 20%-50% off the cost of quality dental care. Healthy employees are a valuable asset for your company as a whole. By investing in the overall wellness of your employees, you encourage them to stay healthy and keep your company running smoothly.

5. Be Flexible

Even if your company structure is rigid, understand that people have lives outside of work. Create a work environment where your employees feel comfortable asking you to leave early for a child’s first baseball game or taking a half day to visit an ailing family member. If it works within your business model, consider letting your employees work from home one day a week to minimize their commute and utilize an at-home lunch break to complete a few brief tasks and re-charge before starting back to work.

As an employer, your main focus is maintaining the vitality of your business, and your employees are your company’s most valuable asset. By encouraging each team member to strike a healthy work-life balance, you support your people and your company.

Kim Sharbatz is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for DenteMax, and has been with the company for over 13 years.