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Mental Wellbeing

Setting boundaries at work

Emma Pryke
Emma Pryke 4 min

As we become increasingly digitally connected to our colleagues, the concept of setting boundaries at work has become more crucial than ever before. Platforms such as Slack and Whatsapp might be great within working hours but can cause anxiety and burnout when pinging late into the evening (not to mention glares from your fellow house-dwellers).

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Gen Z are leading the charge at setting boundaries at work, with 42% of workers prioritizing work-life balance when considering job opportunities (Yahoo Finance, 2023) with Millenials not far behind.

As a manager, your role is not only to drive productivity and results but also to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of your team members. It’s a lot, right? This delicate balance can be achieved by establishing and respecting healthy boundaries within the workplace. Here’s how to make it happen.

Why setting boundaries matters

Before we dive into how to set boundaries, let’s go over why it’s important. It’s not about creating barriers, but about creating a structured environment that fosters efficiency, creativity, and work-life balance. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Enhanced productivity: Clear boundaries help employees understand their responsibilities and tasks, reducing confusion and allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities without distractions.

Improved work-life balance: Encouraging reasonable boundaries helps prevent burnout and exhaustion, allowing employees to maintain a healthier balance between their personal and professional lives.

Strengthened team morale: Well-defined boundaries contribute to a positive team atmosphere, where each member feels respected and valued, leading to improved collaboration and camaraderie.

Reduced conflict: Clarity in roles and expectations can minimize misunderstandings and conflicts arising from blurred lines, enhancing overall workplace harmony.

Flexibility when possible

Gen Z are leading the charge at setting boundaries at work, with 42% of workers prioritizing work-life balance when considering job opportunities (Yahoo Finance, 2023) with Millenials not far behind.

As a manager, your role is not only to drive productivity and results but also to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of your team members. It’s a lot, right?

Flexibility when possible

Strategies for setting effective boundaries:

Before we dive into how to set boundaries, let’s go over why it’s important. It’s not about creating barriers, but about creating a structured environment that fosters efficiency, creativity, and work-life balance. Here are just a few of the benefits:

Enhanced productivity: Clear boundaries help employees understand their responsibilities and tasks, reducing confusion and allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities without distractions.

Improved work-life balance: Encouraging reasonable boundaries helps prevent burnout and exhaustion, allowing employees to maintain a healthier balance between their personal and professional lives.

Strengthened team morale: Well-defined boundaries contribute to a positive team atmosphere, where each member feels respected and valued, leading to improved collaboration and camaraderie.

Reduced conflict: Clarity in roles and expectations can minimize misunderstandings and conflicts arising from blurred lines, enhancing overall workplace harmony.

Encourage breaks: Acknowledge the importance of breaks throughout the workday. Encourage your team to take short breaks to refresh the mind and prevent burnout and perhaps take a meeting outside on a walk (on the phone or in person).

Flexibility when possible: While boundaries are essential, it's also important to acknowledge that certain situations where employees may require flexibility. Be understanding and accommodating when urgent matters arise - we’re all human after all.

This should work both ways, with employees accepting that there may be occasions when they will be expected to work outside of their normal schedule with prior notice. When this happens it’s best to be honest about why the change is needed and reassuring that it will not become a frequent occurrence.

“Be understanding and accommodating when urgent matters arise - we’re all human after all.”

— John Anthony

Gen Z are leading the charge at setting boundaries at work, with 42% of workers prioritizing work-life balance when considering job opportunities (Yahoo Finance, 2023) with Millenials not far behind.

As a manager, your role is not only to drive productivity and results but also to ensure the well-being and satisfaction of your team members. It’s a lot, right? This delicate balance can be achieved by establishing and respecting healthy boundaries within the workplace. Here’s how to make it happen.

This should work both ways, with employees accepting that there may be occasions when they will be expected to work outside of their normal schedule with prior notice. When this happens it’s best to be honest about why the change is needed and reassuring that it will not become a frequent occurrence.

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Provide resources: Equip your team with the tools, resources, and techniques they need to manage their tasks efficiently. This can prevent overworking due to inadequate support.

Regular check-ins: Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to discuss workload, challenges, and potential adjustments to boundaries. This demonstrates your commitment to their well-being and as with anything - healthy communication is at the heart of a happy relationship.

Key Takeaway

The days of skipping lunch breaks and sending emails at 9pm for manager recognition are fast disappearing. With one eye on protecting mental health and the other on a positive balance between work and home life, the emphasis really is on managers leading by example. So pop your Slack on mute and enjoy your evening - everyone will be better off for it.

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