The daily grind. Burning the midnight oil or the candle at both ends. Putting your nose to the grindstone. A labor of love. There is no shortage of metaphors or idioms for working hard. And there’s no shame in doing so. But what we’ve come to realize, unlike many of the generations before us, is that balance is needed for true efficiency and effectiveness. “Work smarter not harder” comes to mind as we explore the ever so delicate conundrum that is work-life balance.
We humans are delicate and complex. Some of us have a tendency to push ourselves to the brink whether by demands of the job, our superiors, or even our own expectations. But finding that balance takes an understanding of everyone around us to build a culture “work hard play hard” to keep the scales of our workload even.
With sales teams facing abysmal retention rates, businesses need to do all they can to keep their best sales talent around for the long run. One area of improvement to pursue is promoting a healthy work-life balance.
And it isn’t just about reducing turnover. According to GoRemotely, businesses that actively promote work-life balance report twice the levels of productivity as those that don’t.
But how do you go about achieving this balance? In this article, we’ll walk you through five ways to encourage a healthy work-life balance on your sales team.
1. Foster a mindset of sustainability
When leading a sales team, it can be tempting to think of your team’s work-life balance strictly in terms of generating revenue. The more your sales reps work, the more sales they make, and the more revenue they bring in—right? So if their work-life “balance” actually leans more heavily on the side of work, well, why try to change that?
Aside from the ethical problems with this mindset, it doesn’t work out from a business perspective either. People aren’t machines. Grinding through work may produce results in the short term, but it isn’t sustainable. Your sales reps will get burnt out. They’ll start making mistakes that lose revenue. And if their work-life balance suffers enough, they’ll ultimately look for opportunities elsewhere.
You don’t have an infinite supply of good sales staff. It takes an average 15 months for a new sales hire to operate at peak performance, and the average salesperson leaves after only 18 months. Those are the numbers you’re up against when thinking about work-life balance in terms of sustainability. Your sales reps need a healthy work-life balance if they’re going to work effectively, remain motivated, and stay with your company long term.
You need to have this sustainability mindset yourself, and you need to clearly communicate it with your team. Provide a clear understanding from the start about what is expected from them, so they never feel like they’re being unfairly overworked.
Your sales reps should know that a healthy and sustainable work-life balance is valued and encouraged from the top of the organization down.
2. Be generous with benefits
In some cases, sales reps would really like to have a better work-life balance, but they feel constrained by the level of benefits they receive.
For example, if their benefits don’t include enough paid sick days, or if they have to jump through hoops to get a doctor’s note before taking a paid sick day, then they’re much more likely to just continue working while sick. That leads to even more people getting sick, mistakes being made while sick, and a longer recovery time for everyone who should just be home resting.
This phenomenon known as “presenteeism” (coming to work when you should be home) is a disaster that costs businesses about $2.5 trillion per year according to Virgin Pulse Global Challenge data.
Similarly, in order for sales reps to take time off to be with their families or attend to their personal lives outside of work, their benefits need to include a decent amount of paid personal and vacation days that they can take as needed. Some nice bonuses to help them enjoy themselves while on vacation aren’t a bad idea either.
Additionally, research has shown that a lack of benefits is the number one reason sales reps choose to leave their company for other opportunities. So being generous with benefits is important for retention as well as work-life balance.
3. Lead by example—and take time off
If you’re serious about wanting your sales reps to have a healthy work-life balance, then you’ll need to lead by example. Leadership and management at all levels should model what it looks like to keep their work within reasonable working hours, take sick days when needed, take plenty of vacation days and personal days off, and maintain a healthy overall balance.
For one thing, having a good work-life balance is healthier for leaders too, and it will lead to their own improved productivity, just as it will for sales reps. And for another, sales reps won’t really believe what you say about valuing a work-life balance unless they see leadership taking it seriously themselves.
4. Provide flexible options
If you want to set yourself apart from other employers, consider offering flexible options for when and where their sales reps can work. This may take several different forms, and you can combine whichever ones work best for your business and your sales team. Some of the most common examples are flexible hours, remote work, and hybrid work.
With flexible hours, sales reps can set their own schedule for when they work. You’ll likely have certain guidelines they need to follow—such as a minimum total number of hours per week and/or certain days or times they are required to work—but within whatever parameters you set, they are free to come and go as they please.
This gives them the chance to go see their kids’ school activities, attend other appointments that occur within regular business hours, or do whatever else they may need in their personal lives, all while still finishing the work you need from them.
Additionally, peak sales hours don’t always line up with standard business hours—especially if you sell internationally. Letting your sales reps choose their hours means they can identify the best times to sell, while attending to personal matters during less profitable times.
Remote work lets sales reps work from home, in a coffee shop, a flex space or wherever else they do their best work. Employees enjoy the sense of freedom and the lack of a long commute, and businesses often enjoy decreased overhead costs in the office.
Running a remote sales team can require a little extra planning to get things set up so that they’ll run smoothly, but many businesses have found that it can actually increase productivity overall, in addition to helping promote a healthy work-life balance. Check out our guide to building and motivating a remote sales team.
Hybrid work is like remote work, but with some requirements for in-office time. It strikes a happy medium between the freedom of working from home and the structure many businesses crave for their employees. In many cases, hybrid work will be set up to rotate through which sales reps are working in the office at any given time, so they can accommodate all team members with a fewer number of workstations.
While hybrid work doesn’t offer quite the level of flexibility as fully remote work, many employers and employees alike see it as the compromise solution that is best able to make everyone happy.
5. Communicate clear expectations during the hiring process
As you read through these ways to encourage a healthy work-life balance, you may be thinking, “Some of this just won’t work in our organization.” And that’s fair. Every business is different, and each has its own pace and way of doing things. Furthermore, some people do better in differently paced organizations than others.
However, it’s absolutely crucial that new sales reps know what they can expect from your organization before they start working with you. So you need to be completely clear about all of these things during the hiring process.
Being upfront about expectations means you’ll be more likely to hire people whose personalities align with the type of work-life balance your business offers—whatever that may look like. But if they’re confronted with a workplace reality that differs from what they were led to believe, you’re going to suffer from high turnover rates.
Improve sales rep retention by improving company culture
Encouraging a healthy work-life balance is one important way to improve sales rep retention rates, but there’s much more you can be doing, and it all comes down to the kind of culture you foster.
In our ebook, Retention through Culture: Why Sales Reps Leave, and What to Do about It, we walk you through the biggest issues that cause high turnover among sales reps and explain four key aspects of company culture that help improve retention.
To learn more, download the free ebook.
And to see what Performio can do for your business, request a demo today.