The concept of organising workflow so that it enables a greater work-life balance for employees is gaining popularity and is now more widely embraced by organisations. Governments are also developing legislation to support this movement.
Recently, the French government reduced the official working week to 35 hours, the United States now compels larger companies to offer unpaid leave when a family member is seriously ill and Australia has instituted 18 weeks of paid parental leave. Within the UK, a recent study has found that almost half of UK workers know someone who quit work because of stress.
Flexible work hours, part-time work and alternate working hours have been shown to considerably increase job satisfaction, productivity and lead to higher motivation. Added to that, offering a more flexible arrangement to employees reduces staff turnover, increases staff retention and cuts absenteeism.
A recent study by Professor Nicholas Bloom found that introducing working from home as an option for employees resulted in a 13.5% increase in calls compared to those who remained in the office, demonstrating that alternate ways of working can have a positive impact on employee productivity.
Whilst it’s not possible in all workplaces, implementing flexible work hours can also increase efficiency across all aspects of life – both at home and at work. Compromising with employees and developing efficient work-life balance strategies can prompt a positive attitude and behaviour which employers also benefit from.
The technology connection
Employers can also implement better work-life balance strategies for employees by promoting technology options that aid with day-to-day tasks.
Encouraging employees to share a combined calendar with everyone – family and co-workers – means that colleagues know the availability of one another if they are not in the same office. Equally families better understand work commitments. This increased sharing means that employees could feel less overwhelmed in juggling work and life.
Many office mail systems and group calendars allow for this sort of organisation and platforms like OneNote are a fantastic way of syncing notes, to-do lists, pictures and general reminders across all devices so that employees can be across everything no matter where they are.
Understanding employee family commitments is an essential piece of the work–life puzzle. Making your employees aware of local childcare facilities or being flexible when employees have to leave the office a little earlier to collect their children from school or childcare, can go a long way towards improving relations in the workplace.
Promoting policies on parental and family leave helps increase employee retention and makes people feel comfortable in knowing that their concerns in balancing work and life are important. It's also likely that positive vibes will be passed onto other people outside of the company too, meaning that a company’s reputation as a respected employer remains or gets reinforced.