7 WAYS EMPLOYERS CAN IMPROVE WORK-LIFE BALANCE
(Hint – forget the ping pong table and free coffee, it’s back to basics)
I was recently invited on a panel discussion around the topics of ‘having it all’ and ‘work life balance’ and whether these ‘gifts’ were an elusive dream or an achievable reality.
Joining me in the discussion were 5 amazing women, all very successful in what they do: C-suite executives running businesses, leading teams and very much committed to helping men and women to achieve their work-life goals.
If you want to read more about what individuals themselves can do to achieve better balance in their lives, look here, but for now, I want to share some of my conclusions on what employers can do to help their employees achieve better work-life balance.
Be More Human
I’ve put this first because it’s the easiest to do, but perhaps the most often overlooked. Simple things like good listening, frequent and better feedback and saying a meaningful ‘how are you?, ‘Well done” or ‘thank you’ go a long way to promote an environment in which all people are valued and respected. Gratitude in the workplace is proven to improve wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity, read more from Forbes.
Mental First Aiders
Every workplace is legally required to have first aiders, but I learnt from the Chief People Officer at Fidelity International that they’ve gone one huge step further and introduced Mental First Aiders. These are trained staff who can recognise and support anyone in need. Such a brilliant initiative that recognises the importance of mental health and the welfare of its staff. Surely every workplace should have these?
Many jobs can be done from home, but to make this happen, employers actually need to encourage it. Not all the time, because company culture can suffer…WFH Wednesdays anyone? But to really facilitate it companies should offer a ‘Flexi Fund’ that employees can put towards whatever they need to make WFH work. A better monitor, chair, printer, wifi or phone for example.
Core hours working
Introduce a ‘core hours’ working policy (say 10am-4pm) and allow employees who need to work flexibly outside of those hours to do so. These hours mean good communication and connectivity with teams can still happen and individuals can find the flexibility they need; whether it’s for caring duties, a side hustle or mental freedom. Trust people by giving them the flexibility and they’ll make it work.
Invest in coaching
A happy employee is one who is in control of their career. They understand their strengths and values, know exactly what their purpose is and where they are heading. This is about empowering employees to define their personal brand and live that brand with as much self-belief as they can.
Motion drives emotion. Studies from the University of Houston have shown that individuals who exercised regularly were more confident they could handle the interaction of their work and home life and were less likely to be stressed at work. So, employers can actively help employees with work-life balance by encouraging them to exercise. Integrate it into your company culture and make it part of your values.
Allow extended breaks
Give employees greater flexibility to take vacations, take mental health breaks, visit counsellors, extended paternity leave or spend time with family and they will be able to manage their stress levels much better. On the subject of holidays, employers must also encourage staff to take their holiday entitlement…40% of employees take only half of their annual entitlement!
Work-life balance will always mean something a little different to each person and employers need to find a way to make the policy itself flexible. What is certain is that it’s in everyone’s interest to cultivate a culture of strong work-life balance. When employees are healthy, well-rested, and feeling great, they are more likely to produce the best work possible. And productivity increases as motivation, staff health and retention rates increase.
Your staff are your most valuable asset. Invest efforts now to nurture and grow that asset.
If you want to find out more about how a Personal Coach can help you or your employees achieve better balance in your work/life, please get in touch.