The concept of work-life balance isn’t new. However, we are finding recently that it is more and more difficult to achieve. Statistics show that 1 in 10 employees are working more than 50 hours per week. These are considered ‘very long hours’ by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. So with many of us being so ‘time-poor’ the ability to juggle all our responsibilities is often quite a challenge. Is there ever truly a balance? In order to be balanced, does your time have to be split evenly 50/50 between your work life and your personal life? Let’s explore the idea further.
Work-life balance is the effort of individuals splitting their time and energy between work and the other areas of their life. These other aspects include family, friends, hobbies, personal growth, spirituality, and anything else the individual would like to do with their time.
The concept itself doesn’t dictate how an individual splits up their time across each area of their life, and this is a very personalised preference. For some, dedicating more time to their work and pursuing their career may be more important. For others, the ‘balance’ may sway in the other direction with more time spent with family as an example.
Finding the optimal ‘balance’ is often hard to achieve. We are all constantly juggling various commitments and expectations, and that’s without even considering what we actually want to do with our own time. Often the demands from each area of our lives compete with each other for attention.
Several factors can contribute to an imbalance for an individual.
Providing an environment that supports employees’ work-life balance is imperative in creating a positive culture with happy and healthy staff. Research suggests that when individuals are looking for a job 72% of them consider work-life balance to be an important factor to consider.
The benefits that stem from providing a supportive workplace affect the individuals and the business as a whole.
Benefits to employee
Benefits to the employer
Offering individuals flexibility in their schedules as well as remote working is highly desirable these days. In fact, 71% of employees would consider another job if it offered them more flexibility than their current place of employment. You could implement flexibility by setting office hours to between 7 am and 7 pm, then it is up to the individual to work their 8 hours within that time frame. You could also offer hybrid or completely remote work options to employees whose job allows it. Research shows that for 67% of individuals, the ability to work remotely has resulted in an improvement in their work-life balance. Work out what flexibility means to your staff and then go from there.
There has started to be a shift away from set working hours, particularly with the implementation of flexible working environments. Now the focus is drawn to productivity over hours worked. If there are clear expectations around what goals need to be achieved each day by each team member, this can be an excellent way for employees to have a bit more ownership of their workday. You’ll need to be able to trust in your staff that they are getting the job done, however with a little bit of autonomy, staff are often more inclined to be productive and efficient at achieving their given tasks.
This is multi-faceted. Individuals need to be encouraged to take breaks during their workday whether working from home or in the office. Encourage employees to take some time to step outside or at least away from their desks regularly throughout the day. Likewise on a more broad scale, enabling and encouraging employees to use their annual leave and take time away from work is important also. Some businesses limit carryover, which is the number of days/hours of paid leave you can accrue and take into the following year. You could also introduce social events and team-building experiences to promote a healthy balance between work and play.
Following on from encouraging breaks, you need to be setting boundaries so these breaks can be enjoyed. Set the expectation that when an employee is away from work, you aren’t available. You are not expected to be contactable or to complete tasks when you are on leave.
Something that needs to be done regularly is reviewing the workload of each individual within your team. Check the allocation of tasks and ensure that everyone can achieve their goal and that their workload is achievable. Discussing this with your team regularly will allow for honest feedback from your employees and ensure you have an understanding of each individual's capacity so as not to overload them.
The best way to increase the uptake of a new concept is to utilise it yourself. If you are promoting work-from-home days, do that yourself. If you’re wanting employees to use their paid leave for a vacation, take one yourself! If there is anyone a little resistant to change, seeing the concept in action can often be what helps them decide to make the change themself.
Assistance to parents can be provided in a number of ways. This could be a company policy around paid parental leave for both the mother and the father of a child. This could be having on-site childcare solutions. Often increased flexibility and remote working options, as previously discussed, is a real benefit when it comes to working parents.
Perks are often used as a way to attract new staff and retain current ones. In fact, perks can be so important to staff that 80% of employees would rather have additional benefits over a pay rise. Luckily, there are plenty of options when it comes to what perks to offer. However, we want to ensure they are providing our staff with something they actually value. Perks could include support for further education, a company car with a fuel card, a discount on dry cleaning, vouchers, personal development, and the list goes on! Perks that reward healthy habits are a great idea to encourage individuals to lead healthy lifestyles. This could be an onsite gym or discounted gym memberships, discounts on healthy meal delivery services, in-office nutrition info sessions etc. Find out what are valuable perks for your team members, and see what you can deliver for them.
Fostering a healthy work-life balance amongst your employees can be a challenging task, but ultimately the benefits to the business as well as each individual, are significant. Utilising and implementing some of these ideas can help to increase employee job satisfaction, and overall well-being, as well as increase the image of the company. Ensuring that you keep work-life balance a priority will enable your employees to have access to the right tools to find the right balance for themselves. It is always a valuable exercise to gain feedback directly from the source. Take the time and ask your staff individually what would enable them to achieve a positive work-life balance. We spoke earlier that this will be achieved in different ways depending on the individual, so a one size fits all approach probably isn’t going to cut it. Once a new concept is implemented continue the conversation about its efficacy and be sure to keep an open-door policy when it comes to employees discussing this subject in the future.
Emily has a background in corporate sales and recruitment. Experience, that allows her to understand businesses and people, and to create compelling copy and content that showcases just that.
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