If you feel like your job has you on the verge of burnout, you’re not alone. A Perkbox study showed that 79% of British adults in employment commonly experience work-related stress. In the US, stress causes around one million employees to miss work every day.
As technology has advanced, the line between our work and personal lives has become increasingly blurred, and for many, boundaries have become virtually non-existent. If you often find yourself taking on more work than you can handle or feel under pressure regularly, taking back control is essential. This begins with re-establishing those professional boundaries that have been crossed.
Below are eight ways to set healthy workplace boundaries to protect your wellbeing, increase productivity and improve work-life balance.
1. Ask for help
Despite high levels of stress at work, it’s common for employees to suffer in silence. HSE research indicates that workload is the biggest cause of workplace stress, which is something managers can help with.
It’s a manager’s responsibility to ensure their team is coping with tasks and that their wellbeing is supported. Next time you feel stressed, be sure to approach your boss and let them know how you’re feeling, as honest communication is the only way they’ll know you’re struggling. Together, you can review your workload, prioritise key tasks and determine which work can wait or be delegated, helping set realistic boundaries regarding capacity.
2. Set your own limits
One reason workers become overwhelmed is that they don’t set boundaries for themselves to follow. Self-imposed limitations are crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance, whether taking an hour for lunch every day or not checking work emails in the evenings. Although these boundaries may seem difficult to stick with at first, you’ll soon realise that you can be an excellent employee without being constantly available to your colleagues — and that you’re more productive when you’ve had a chance to switch off.
3. Communicate openly
When setting professional boundaries, you must communicate these to your colleagues and managers. If you’re unable to take on a project with a short deadline, be honest. If you don’t want your colleagues to contact you while you’re on leave, let them know. Boundaries can only serve you when your team is in the loop, and if a line is crossed, it’s best to address it. If you have any concerns around boundaries, arrange a meeting with your line manager to give you dedicated time to discuss them.
4. Realise you can say no
There are several reasons why people struggle to say no, but this two-letter word is a powerful tool to avoid overwhelm and exhaustion. When you’re asked to do something you know you can’t manage, you must be realistic — don’t take it on anyway and hope for the best, as this is a surefire recipe for burnout.
5. Embrace structure
Creating structure within your workweek is one way to set workplace boundaries that will instantly improve productivity. Set meetings in advance when needed, create blocks of time in which you’re not to be disturbed and set self-imposed deadlines to help you stay on track. If you feel that you often waste time in drawn-out meetings, speak to your manager about setting up weekly check-ins rather than spontaneous daily calls.
6. Create specific boundaries for remote working
In the age of remote working, employees often feel compelled to be on the clock at all hours of the day. Creating boundaries when working from home is especially crucial for your physical and mental wellbeing, which means knowing when to stop working and spend time with your family or making sure you get some fresh air every day. There are several ways for employers to support a remote workforce, so if you don’t feel that you’ve been given the tools you need to succeed, discuss this with your boss.
7. Take time off
Another excellent way to set workplace boundaries is by taking time off when you need it and using this time to recharge. Don’t let the holidays you’ve earned go unused, and don’t take time off only to end up checking your emails every ten minutes.
8. Make use of technology
Although technology can make it difficult to distance yourself from work, it can also be the solution. Use software and tools available to you to help you stick to professional boundaries, whether it’s setting up an out of office reply or using a continuous performance management tool to schedule conversations about performance and wellbeing.
Clear Review’s continuous performance management software encourages meaningful conversations, boosts engagement and supports employee wellbeing. Get in touch with our expert team or book a free demo to discover how we can help you foster a positive work environment.