Work-life balance refers to free time, self-care, time with family or for hobbies and interests. Anyone can and should take measures of their own to create work-life balance, but it’s going to be hard to achieve without a supportive or accommodating work environment.
Further, Bersin claims that at the moment, 40% of Americans believe they have to sacrifice work-life balance in order to have a successful career. They haven’t been proven wrong yet.
Why create work-life balance?
Well, having work-life balance will make employees more motivated, productive and efficient. Most importantly, it prevents work-burnout. Work-burnout is the result of long periods of stress from working overtime, which can cause an estimated $125 billion to $190 billion a year in healthcare in the US per employee. Not to mention, work-burnout has a significant psychological and mental impact on the employee.
Therefore, not taking work-life balance into consideration is detrimental to the company. Less engaged employees means that the quality of work or efficiency is low. This results in high attrition rates, low productivity and low quality of work. In the long run, a company will be unable to attract quality talent suitable for increasingly demanding jobs.
Moreover, Bersin optimistically believes that Millennials and Generation Z, which are the new generations that will dominate this workforce, are going to strive towards changing this trend. In fact, studies show that Millennials would not tolerate having the lack of work-life balance or opportunities to satisfy their personal needs in their workplace. If they do not have work-life balance, they would leave the company if a better opportunity arises.
Therefore, it is vital for HR to create work-life balance within their organisation. But how? Here are some effective tips to start implementing in your company.
1. Know your employees!
The concerns of the employees will give HR Managers a clearer direction on how to improve the company. There is no point organising extra town-halls or team activities if the real issue was that employees were experiencing an unhealthy amount of stress from overwhelming workloads. Initiating action without understanding the needs of the employees may result in backlash or deeper frustration.
To avoid this, a HR manager should provide a platform for employees to voice their concerns and continually give feedback. Chances are, there is going to be a general consensus to an underlying issue which prevents the employees from achieving work-life balance.
For instance, if over 50% of employees indicate in a quarterly survey that their managers are giving them too much work, then perhaps the first step for the HR manager is to voice these concerns to the other managers in the company. The HR manager should communicate that reducing the workloads of the employees allows more time for the employees to rest and recuperate. This way, the employees will feel less stressed but still be more efficient in completing tasks and producing better quality work.
2. Recognise that work-life balance is beyond salary
Work-life balance goes beyond having a decent salary and a manageable workload. Whilst this may be the first steps in creating employee satisfaction, employees nowadays desire the full employee experience.
What’s the difference? Well, in the past, a workspace that provided employees with enough money to feed their families was probably enough to satisfy them. Nowadays, part of having a good employee experience means making sure that employees have interesting and challenging tasks that bring autonomy, nurtures their learning and personal growth and encourages them to take initiative and be creative. This is because everyone wants to feel worthy and that their efforts are rewarding.
In contrast, if employees are given mundane or repetitive jobs, they are more likely to feel disengaged and unsatisfied with their work. The less engaged and satisfied an employee is, the more likely it is they would quit if a better opportunity arises. Therefore, HR managers should communicate that providing employee experience is important to prevent high attrition rates, and work with other managers to ensure that the employees are given more opportunities to grow.
1. Create a fun and caring community in your organisation
In addition to work opportunities, HR managers should also consider fostering a better work culture. Some suggestions include having activities that will motivate and inspire to work harder. For example, you could organise team-building activities, morning yoga sessions near or at the workplace before work, or casual dinners on Friday evening. In other words, there should be opportunities for employees to get to know each other in an environment outside work.
The purpose of these activities should be to nurture better relationships across departments and positions. If employees develop better friendships, or are on friendly terms with their boss, then they would enjoy the environment they work at. Not only would they look forward to the work they are completing, but they look forward to working with the people in the company.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask, never assume
At that senior management meeting, it’s possible that the other managers and even the CEO will disagree with your proposal to hire more employees or set policies that reduce workload. The finance manager probably won’t be happy about allocating budget for work-place events. Similarly, the sales manager won’t like it when you tell them to adhere to a maximum working hours policy. However, you shouldn’t use this as an excuse for not asking for what you need. Never assume your proposals won’t go through.
The key to getting the rest of the management team onboard with your proposed changes is to communicate why it’s importance. Chances are, these managers are great at budgeting money or selling products, but they don’t often consider the ‘people side’ of work because it simply isn’t in their job description. They often forget that their employees are people, and will tend to make mistakes, break down and lose focus. As HR manager, it is your responsibility to emphasise how work-life balance and the wellbeing of the employees can benefit the entire company. If you articulate these benefits clearly, you are more likely to get support.
3. Remind, Promote and Communicate
Finally, remember to raise awareness and constantly communicate the importance of work-life balance to the rest of the company. There is no point allocating budget for department dinners if no one attends. Therefore, as HR Manager, you should communicate what is the purpose behind the team-building activities you organise or the decisions made by the senior management to reduce work hours, to the employees. Being transparent and open will again help cultivate a friendly work culture.
Likewise, your fellow managers will likely need gentle reminders about not overloading their employees, or on attending team-building activities to get to know their subordinates. Especially if an organisation is used to traditional practice, it can take time to change the mindset about work-life balance, or to cultivate a friendlier and more open work culture.