Arianna Huffington’s statement, taken from an inspiring speech about wellbeing and what is work life balance, is an interesting one. At first, it may seem controversial, but if you take a closer look at what employee wellbeing means to you, you may realise it rings true.
In a world bursting with inequality, time is the only resource we all get the same amount of every day. It grants no exchanges or refunds: nothing matters more than making time for the things we care about, as the hours we waste are forever lost. Whatever our passion is - family life, a creative project, or something else entirely, the recipe for a healthy life lies in how much time we make for it, and how we cope when something threatens to unsettle our work balance.
At one point or another, many come to see work as that obstacle. With National Work-Life Week in full swing, let’s take a look at how you, the employer, can help your workforce reach the balance they need. Your support will have a huge impact on how healthy, happy and engaged they feel - and that engagement will, ultimately, drive your business forward. Include work life balance in your employee benefits mix, and you’ll reap huge benefits too.
“A culture of burnout cannot be a culture of sustained creativity.”
Arianna Huffington, Inbound 2013
Taking a leaf out of Herzberg’s book, work-life balance is a hygiene factor. Employees who lack it risk burning out: whether they bring personal worries into the office, or take work concerns back home in the evening, stress will be quick to take its toll. But work-life balance is a motivator, too. A recent CIPD report proves that employees who have a healthy work-life balance are likely to be more engaged with their workplace: 77% of engaged employees feel they achieve the right balance between work and home life; a stark contrast with the tiny 27% of workers who consider themselves disengaged.
The employer approach to work-life balance can also influence your ability to retain the best talent. 27% of employees surveyed by Hay Group plan to leave their company within the next two years if their organisation does not start supporting work life balance actively; by contrast, only 17% of employees who receive that support have considered seeking new opportunities elsewhere. More importantly even, millennials see work-life balance as a key benefit; as they become an increasingly large part of our workforce, the case for providing benefits that help attract and retain them is stronger than ever.
We’ve discussed how wearable devices enhance workplace wellbeing, but work-life balance is an entirely different matter. No wearable will help your employees spend time with their family, travel the world, or simply schedule a doctor’s appointment when they’re concerned about their health, but you certainly can: a positive, supportive culture plays a big role in empowering them to make the most of their time. There are many simple steps you can take to help employees balance work and life as part of your benefits offering; here are five work-life balance tips to get you started.
“You cannot manage creativity, you have to manage for creativity.”
Arianna Huffington, Inbound 2013
1. Create a culture of trust.
Many managers seek to minimise the time employees spend out of the business, believing that the time they spend at their desk is directly connected to productivity.
Effective work-life balance support calls for a mentality switch: showing that you trust employees to deliver high quality work, regardless of where they work from or how long they work for, will get you much further in the wellbeing and engagement game.
2. Promote an open-door policy.
The first step to supporting work-life balance is creating a culture where trust and two-way communication are valued. The more you encourage employees to discuss their difficulties with you, the easier it will be to help them manage their time and workload.
3. Recognise that there’s no one-size-fits-all.
The recent extension of the right to request flexible working is a step in the right direction, but supporting work-life balance means much more than that. At times, you may need to adapt policies to entire groups of employees, such as parents or carers.
On other occasions, you’ll need to agree solutions informally with individuals; again, a key reason to promote two-way communication within your business.
4. Train your managers to tackle stress.
At their best, managers track the pulse of their teams, and address concerns in a supportive way. At their worst, they may put pressure on employees, or create a negative workplace culture. In both cases, effective training on how to manage stress issues will help them develop into the positive leaders they need to be.
5. Build flexibility into your annual leave policies.
Buying more annual leave through holiday trading enables employees to set aside time for well deserved breaks, or side projects they’ve been struggling to keep to weekends and evenings. The number of organisations that don’t offer this benefit never fails to puzzle me: given the huge payroll savings it delivers, it should be a no brainer.
Supporting work-life balance isn’t rocket science. You can get a lot out of recognising that everyone, from the highest paid executive to the newest entry level recruit, gets the same 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,440 seconds every day.
So here’s a question and a challenge for you: how will you help your employees thrive, starting from today?