There was a time when most employees considered work and “life” to be two separate things, but in the modern, technologically connected world, the lines between these two elements have blurred considerably. Workers today care deeply about their work life balance and view their personal life and their job to be equally important.
On one of our recent studies, 53% of employees said that a job that allows them to have a better work life balance and higher personal well-being is extremely important, and 60% of Human Resources professionals surveyed also ranked this as an extremely important job factor.
While work life balance will mean different things to different workers, there are a few general trends that are clear. Here are five things that you can do to improve your employees’ overall work life balance.
Today’s employees want to have flexible schedules and be able to work remotely whenever possible. This allows them the time they need to take care of business in their personal life – so that it doesn’t interfere with completing work tasks. Most modern workers aren’t looking for a set eight-hour workday or a straightforward five-day work week. Instead, they want more flexibility, including longer workdays for four-day workweeks and flex hours where they can come in as late as they need to or as early as they want to – as long as they remain and work for the appropriate amount of time. Some employees would even rather work through their lunch hour in order to leave earlier, or work some weekends in order to have time off during the week to take care of personal tasks.
Research also finds that work-from-home and offsite options have an impact on employees’ decisions to take or leave a job – again, particularly among the millennial generation. You’ll also find that offering this opportunity to parents can be especially motivating and reduces both employee stress levels and the number of days they have to take off from work.
In order to truly take advantage of the benefits your company offers, employees need to be clear on the options that are available to them. This helps workers actually use the benefits and improve their work-life balance. It’s also essential to make sure that your workplace culture encourages your employees to use these benefits, instead of simply having them there on paper, but tacitly discouraging your workers from using them.
Whether it’s simply offering discount rates to local health clubs or allowing your employees more flexible lunch schedules so that they can get in a workout and shower before returning to the office, encouraging healthier employees who exercise regularly reduces sick time and makes for a happier workforce. Exercise breaks are already incorporated into many Japanese companies, and China has mandatory exercises twice a day at state-owned companies. American companies can learn a lot from these practices.
If your employees’ weekends and workdays all blur together, then their minds and bodies never have the time they need to rest. While there may be some work-related activities that they need to –or even want to– take care of during their “time off,” it’s essential that they actually do have some time to relax and enjoy themselves in order to avoid burnout.
While improving the work-life balance of your employees won’t happen overnight, and your particular company may not be able to integrate all of these strategies, adding any of these elements can have a drastic, positive effect on your employees’ morale and performance.
Whatever strategies you choose to encourage a better work-life balance among your workers, you’ll want to start by assessing how your employees already feel about their work environment.