Managing a healthy work-life balance in the tech industry can be challenging, and today’s working parents and parents-to-be have more on their plate than ever. With the pressures of a housing shortage, rising inflation, and the skyrocketing cost of childcare, balancing responsibilities at work and home can seem insurmountable for many tech employees. When work and life are out of sync, there can be major ramifications, ranging from burnout and lower productivity to physical illness and higher rates of attrition.

Tech companies can support their working parents by providing them with the resources they need to balance the demands of their home life with those in the office. 

Here’s what tech employers need to know about improving work-life balance for working parents and parents-to-be: 

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is the management of time spent working compared with the time spent doing things outside of work. Much of the conversation around work-life balance centers on how hard it is to achieve and puts the onus on the individual to correct the imbalance—when the truth is, some people just have too much work, too many responsibilities, or not enough support. 

Work-life balance looks different for everyone depending on their role, job flexibility, commitments outside of work, and support network. It’s also subject to change. There may be times when work looms larger and other times when employees can focus more on what they enjoy outside of work. However, with remote and hybrid work as the new normal, your employees can feel constantly bound to their work—a Robert Half survey found that 70% of professionals who transitioned to remote work say they now work on the weekends. 

Why tech is different

The tech industry often struggles when it comes to work-life balance. One report found that 42% of all tech employees feel high levels of burnout, with over half of this group reporting that they can’t relax once their workday is over. 

Given the global nature of technology and the expectation for round-the-clock support, employees often find themselves tethered to their computer after traditional working hours. This blurred boundary between professional and personal life can make it incredibly difficult to switch off and focus on family or self-care. 

Additionally, the competitive environment common in tech exacerbates the issue. The pressure to outperform, meet tight deadlines, and stay ahead in the innovation curve often leads to extended work hours and high stress levels. This can be particularly taxing for parents trying to juggle work responsibilities with family commitments, who may feel like they’re falling behind at work if they take time away to be with their families. 

Making remote work work 

Ensuring tech employees can have a healthy work-life balance is a key part of creating a positive work environment.

Remote work, for all its benefits, may contribute to the worsening work-life balance among tech employees. Research shows that remote workers are more likely to work longer hours and work nights and weekends—unable to disconnect fully from their jobs on their devices.

Poor work-life balance may also be contributing to trends in employment and attrition. A Great Places to Work report shows that burnout more than doubles the chance that employees will look for new job opportunities. And nearly half of employees who are at high risk for burnout report feeling less engaged in their work.   

The challenges employees with families face

While many people struggle with the complexities of work-life balance, working parents and parents-to-be in tech face a unique set of difficulties. Working parents have to navigate their work schedules, the costs of childcare, financial anxiety, and a healthcare system that doesn’t adequately meet their reproductive health needs. These factors have serious consequences—nearly 60% of tech employees have left or considered leaving a job because of inadequate family benefits.

Because women bear more of the child care burden, their work-life balance has been disproportionately affected. This intensified second shift has led to acute attrition among working moms, with a 6.5% decline in working mothers in the labor force between 2020 and 2021. 

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Recognizing the signs of work-life imbalance in tech

If your employees have a work-life imbalance, they’re not alone. Here are the signs of work-life imbalance to look for in tech employees: 

Bringing work home

If employees are logging on early and working late, it’s a sign there may be a lack of boundaries with their work. The rise in remote work has had many benefits—less time commuting, more flexibility, and a more personalized work schedule. But these benefits have also made it harder to create a clear division between working hours and personal hours.

Physical symptoms of exhaustion or distress

Stress and burnout don’t just affect mood and emotional state—there can be physical consequences as well. When tech employees are experiencing work-life imbalance, it can lead to consistently elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can have detrimental effects on health including:

  • Digestive problems 
  • Sleep issues
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Weight gain

Employees may mention physical symptoms of stress or that they are feeling drained or tired during meetings, which may indicate a risk of work-life imbalance and burnout. 

A constant feeling of stress 

A warning that someone’s work-life balance is in jeopardy is a nonstop sense of urgency and stress. This can take the form of stressful dreams about work, increased anxiety before the work week, or difficulty focusing on non-work friends and family. Work stress has been normalized, but that doesn’t mean it should go unaddressed.  

How to support work-life balance in tech for employees with families

Despite the focus on self-care in conversations around work-life balance, these issues required much more thoughtful and proactive solutions. Tech employees need better working conditions, clearer communication around expectations, and improved mental health support. Here are some innovative ideas to help improve your employees’ work-life balance: 

Offer virtual clinical and emotional health support

To provide comprehensive support for parents, employers can offer virtual women’s and family health support, like Maven, that allows them to meet with a range of specialists whenever they need them, including mental health professionals, career coaches, wellness specialists, and more. Digital health support that is accessible and easy to use is crucial for tech employees who may be pressed for time and not have room in their schedule to make it to a doctor’s office.

Negotiating family-friendly work arrangements

To make sure tech employees have time to focus and complete their work, offer flexibility for employees with children at home, or even have no meeting days weekly, which can give your employees some much-needed time back in the day.

Cultivate a culture of leaving work behind at the end of the day 

Set firm boundaries with work to ensure time for family, friends, and fun, and proactively encourage your employees to do the same. There may be times when an employee has to work late or take on more work, but these instances should be exceptions to the rule, not the norm.  

Create space to ask for help 

Set the tone that it’s okay to not be okay all the time. Especially for working parents, it is normal to get overwhelmed. Being open to providing support and assistance when they ask will make them feel seen in a difficult time. 

Check in often about workload and burnout

Set up a recurring meeting with employees to discuss how they’re feeling about their workload—what they like, what they would rather not have on their plate, and if they’re experiencing any signs of burnout. These meetings should be an open conversation in which the employee can bring up any concerns or questions about their assignments. 

Give employees PTO for vacations and mental health days

55% of Americans don’t use all their vacation days, adding to an unhealthy cycle of burnout and hyperfixation on work. Encourage and model behavior of taking time off from work, enabling others to leave their work behind. For tech companies that offer unlimited PTO, setting a minimum of required days off per year can encourage employees to disconnect when they need. 

Ask employees to disconnect when they’re not at work 

Be clear that taking breaks is an essential part of being a good employee. Being always on isn’t healthy—and it doesn’t make anyone more productive. In fact, a 2019 study showed that people who were able to fully disconnect after work had more energy and felt better at concentrating.  

Advocate for parents in the workplace with parent-focused ERGs

Create a safe space for working parents to build community at work by starting an employee resource group (ERG) for parents at your organization. A working parent ERG can provide the resources, emotional support, and networking ERG members may need. 

Provide parenting and career coaching

 Employees juggling the many responsibilities of both work and family may be looking for additional support and guidance. Providing access to specialists who can help working parents navigate how to succeed in both realms of their lives can lead to a healthier work-life balance. 

Build a better work-life balance in tech with Maven

You can make many adjustments to provide better work-life balance to your employees. Access to clinical, emotional, and financial support along the family journey can give employees the resources they need to better manage stress and show up fully at work and home. 

Maven is the leading digital health platform for women’s and family health, helping companies support employees through the everyday challenges and joys of the family journey, from fertility through menopause. Our global network of providers is accessible 24/7 through our virtual care platform, offering advice and support from experts in parenting, career coaching, and much more. To find out how Maven can help your company build a better work-life balance for your employees, contact us today.

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