At the Intersection of Work and Home
Technology, mobile devices and social media platforms have no doubt made work easier and more efficient for most. Telecommunication applications enable working groups to virtually “meet” at a moment’s notice at any hour of the day. Cell phones allow employees to review quarterly numbers while eating lunch, waiting in a carpool line or hanging out at the dog park. Calendar apps allow employees to schedule meetings without having to speak to anyone about availability. Nowadays, work can be performed with just about anyone, on any continent 24/7.
“Work life” has bled into our “personal life” and the boundaries are not so clear. If not properly managed and balanced out, all this talking, scheduling, reading and meeting can run an employee down and create an unhealthy working environment that may not be sustainable. Having a healthy balance between an employee’s work life and home/family life is essential to a sustainable workplace, or one where employees are engaged, committed, involved and efficient.
Work-Life Balance Benefits
Organizational psychologist Ellen Kossek describes a sustainable workforce as “one whose employees have the positive energy, capabilities, vitality, and resources to meet current and future organizational performance demands while sustaining their economic and mental health on and off the job.” The benefits of establishing a healthy work-life balance are many and include:
- Stress reduction
- Increased feelings of control
- Reduced absenteeism and turnover
- Increased productivity
- Better customer relations
- Boosts to employee morale and well-being
- Creating a reputation as an employer of choice
Creating a Healthy Work-Life Balance
In contrast, a workplace lacking a healthy work-life balance may be lethargic, unproductive, negative and in dire need of some TLC. As an employer, it is not difficult to understand the competing demands placed on your employees. You probably experience the same ones. If you want to be sure your employees are recharged and ready to contribute in a purposeful and meaningful way, consider some of these ways to create a healthy work-life balance for them:
- Offer Paid Time Off Instead of Vacation or Sick Leave. Don’t waste company time trying to verify if an employee is sick or just taking a mental health day. Offer a set amount of paid time off that may be used for any purpose. Let employees decide.
- Offer Flexible Work Arrangements. Employees with families, especially those with young or dependent family members, desire an employer who is flexible about work schedule and location. Alternative schedules and telecommuting allow employees to tend to their personal lives without compromising their work productivity.
- Offer Unpaid/Paid Time Off for Life Events. Have a policy that allows a set amount of unpaid/paid time off for life events such as moving, attending school functions, vet appointments, attending family reunions/gatherings, the birth of a child and the adoption of an animal.
- Disconnect from Work During Time Off. Encourage employees to disconnect from work emails/calls and other work-related communications and activities while they are away from work. The ability to disengage from work while focusing on personal matters is critical to de-stressing. Supervisors and subordinates must also refrain from contacting off-duty employees about work matters.
- Allow Employees to Handle Personal Matters While Working. Allow employees some time for personal phone calls, or to pick up dinner at the grocery on the way back from a meeting.
- Provide Special Events for Employees and their Families. Employees like being invited to events where the focus is purely social. Many would love the opportunity to introduce their spouse/significant other and children to their managers and co-workers. Picnics, potlucks and sporting events are perfect opportunities to do so.
When investigating ways to improve work-life balance for your employees, remember your diverse workforce may differ in what they find are meaningful work-life programs and initiatives.
Smart HR Can Help
The experts at Smart HR will take the time to understand your workforce and its demands. Successful work-life programs and initiatives are not cookie-cutter and must be tailored to your specific corporate needs. Call Smart HR to get the personalized service you and your employees deserve. It is an investment into the “health” of your organization.