Work-life balance – the intractable problem for bosses and employees alike?
25th July 2017 by Fiona Hotston Moore
A recent survey by the Telegraph and Omnicom Media Agency discovered the top reason (80% of respondents) entrepreneurs decided to start up their own business was to have greater control over their work-life balance.
However, it is not just entrepreneurs who seek an improvement to their work-life balance. In another survey the top reason for changing jobs was to achieve a better work-life balance. Undoubtedly Generation Z no longer just want a job. They want a greater sense of fulfilment and to contribute to their community. In addition, this generation recognises that technology should facilitate achieving a better work-life balance.
UK workers are estimated to do £33.6 bn of unpaid overtime a year and the number of people spending more than two hours a day commuting has increased by 72% in the last decade.
Unfortunately, despite all these extra hours, the UK productivity gap is significantly lower than the G7 average and is getting worse. As we implement Brexit the repeal bill protects employment rights for now but it remains to be seen what elements of workers’ rights are retained in the medium term. At the same time, the mental health of the population is also suffering. Workplace stress is a significant factor in this, driving absenteeism, and we all know how mental health services are already stretched to breaking point.
So how can employers improve work-life balance for their employees and the boss?
Maintain Structural Consistency
Employees experience less stress if they have control over their workload and they have a consistent work environment and clarity of reporting lines.
Encourage Community Engagement
Offer community engagement opportunities such as paid volunteering, perhaps involving a number of co-workers.
Consider how you allow flexible working without compromising productivity
Experience shows virtual working and completely flexible hours can compromise productivity and that giving flexibility to one employee can create pressure on co-workers. However, it’s important to give employees the flexibility to deal with personal emergencies without worrying about losing their salary and to make up the time outside normal hours.
Regular team building activities encourages employees to work together and to support each other.
Designate a quiet place
Create a quiet place where employees can take time out and reflect.
Consult with employees
Ask employees what changes might help them and maintain the dialogue with regular conversations. Small changes can make a big difference.
Lead by example
Respect the work-life balance of your team, encourage them to take their holiday and only contact them after hours in an emergency.
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