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What every manager can do to boost employee happiness

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The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?” is by William Craig, founder and president of WebpageFX.

Early in my career, I learned that being successful at your job — whether as an employee or as the CEO of your own company — doesn’t have to mean isolating work from the rest of your life. A lot of professionals will tell you that you should have a “work-life balance” but, for many people, this means focusing on work at work and focusing on your family or personal interests at home. And that may work for some people but, for many, it becomes a complicated balancing act of fitting all of your errands into the weekend while trying to stay productive at the office during the week. Yet my wife (co-founder and COO) and I credit the success of WebpageFX to our belief in work-life integration, not work-life balance. Contrary to the idea of work-life balance, the concept of work-life integration means that work and life are always interacting. Here’s how to create a work environment that accommodates both personal and professional needs:

Create policies you would enjoy following
When I was working in the corporate world — before starting my own business — I had to be at work each day by 8:00 A.M. If I needed to come in after 8:00 A.M, I had to use my accrued PTO to account for the absence. So if I had a dentist or a car service appointment in the morning, I had to use my personal PTO to make up for it. By the end of the year, half of my precious vacation days had been used on simple errands. When we started our company, this was something that really resonated with me. I didn’t want to make our employees choose between taking care of business at home or being productive at work. Instead, we’ve created flexible working policies that we would enjoy following ourselves. This doesn’t mean that we work 24/7, or that we do our grocery shopping on company time. Rather, it means that we always acknowledge that both parts of our lives exist. We encourage fun events in our company’s office, but we also find work-related inspiration on the weekends.

See also: The secret to dealing with difficult coworkers

Provide flexible work hours
As it turns out, work-life integration is also something that many millennials look for in a job. Eighty-eight percent want a company culture that allows their working and personal lives to blend together. The best thing an employer can do to improve employees’ personal lives and work productivity is offer adaptable working hours and generous flextime policies. Not only does our company offer flexible starting times, but we also offer additional flex hours for employees to use in the event of necessary errands or personal responsibilities. Need to leave mid-day for a doctor’s appointment? No problem, you can make up the hours in the same week. Did your daycare cancel at the last minute? No worries there, either. You can take time to find babysitter and come into work around 10:00 A.M., without fear of being scrutinized for coming in late.

Make sick leave flexible, too
Most companies separate sick leave from vacation days. However, we’ve all had a friend at one point or another who’s run out of vacation days and used a sick day to stay home and recharge. My question is, why beat around the bush? Rather than putting employees in a situation where they might be enticed to lie about their absence, combine the hours you provide for sick leave and PTO. This way, if your employees don’t get sick, they will simply have more vacation days. This can create more transparency in the workplace, and also has the potential to reduce employee absences. After all, would you take random sick days if you could save them for a beach vacation?

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question:What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

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