promoting a better work-life balance
‘Australia’s Welfare 2017’ reported that although Australians were working fewer hours than previously, it still ranked 27th out of the 34 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries when it came to work-life balance. If an individual’s preferences do not align with their working hours, it can lead to lower levels of job satisfaction and poorer mental health, resulting in lower productivity and increased absenteeism.
Increasingly, organisations are introducing flexible work options in an effort to encourage a better work-life balance for existing employees, as well as to attract future talent. While the ‘Randstad Employer Brand Research 2018’ found that work-life balance was the most important factor for employees when choosing a new employer, it ranked only in 9th place for what employers considered as important.
With the rise of technology, there is more scope for greater flexibility in the workplace. When it comes to the next working generation, a better work-life balance is more attractive than the salary. The normal working week is no longer bounded to eight-hour days for five days a week, and with that in mind, employers need to look at how to balance employee working hours with business requirements.
When employees feel they have a greater sense of control over their own lives, they are able to leave work issues at work, and home issues at home. Balanced employees who are more motivated and less stressed are going to be more productive, with less conflict between co-workers and management.
The main ways that management can improve employee work-life balance include:
- educating employees about a healthy work-life balance, what it looks like and how to achieve it
- providing flexible hours (if possible) with employees working a certain number of hours, but leaving the employee to decide when those hours are worked
- working remotely
- restricting excessive work hours in order to maintain health and safety
- focusing on employee productivity instead of hours worked
- ensuring the workload is reasonable
- providing any additional services that can save employees’ time and money, and reduce stress, e.g. discounted gym membership, childcare facilities, free or discounted healthy snacks.
If management is not sure what to offer employees, ask. Employees who have input in decision making are more likely to support those initiatives, feel valued and experience greater job satisfaction.