According to the survey titled Global generations: A global study on work-life challenges across generations by EY, one-third of full-time workers in eight countries say that managing work-life has become more difficult. The survey found that the younger generations and parents are harder hit than others. A healthy work life balance balance isn’t a new concept; in fact, the term was first used in the UK in the late 70s to describe an individual’s relationship between his work and personal life.
The business benefits of promoting work-life balance have been well-documented. One of the most cited examples is of British Telecom. In 2006, 75,000 out of 102,000 workers of British Telecom were working flexibly. The telecom giant found that its home workers are 15-31% more productive than their office-based counterparts. Also, the annual staff turnover dipped to less than 4%, whereas the sector average stood at 17%. Sickness absence among those who worked from home averaged less than 3 days per person per annum. The positive effects of the initiative also reflected in the customer satisfaction; 20 million customers rated the quality of service 5 % higher than before.
Here we discuss how organizations can promote work-life balance to increase employee satisfaction and productivity.
- Organizations can promote healthy work life balance initiatives by giving their workforce more control and choice over the hours they work, how they work, from where they work, and how they deliver their work. An LRN study released at the World Economic Forum in Davos found that “organizations who build freedom into their relationships are 10 times more likely to outperform traditional organizations in the short-term and more than 20 times more likely to outperform them in the long-term.”
At The New York office of the Gerson Lehrman, employees don’t have an assigned space; they work in flexible working spaces that range from phone booths, conference rooms to couches and in-house coffee bar. Every day when the team members arrive at the office, they’re free to pick up space in accordance with the task they’re performing. They can relocate to another area when they see fit.
- Creating a culture that supports work-life balance is the key to happier employees and stronger organizations. Your processes, HR policies, incentive & promotion structure should be promoting a healthy relationship between your team members’ professional and personal lives. Many organizations are giving time in lieu to their staff for attending important events like parent-teacher meetings; staff training during working hours; compressed working weeks; and conducting coaching sessions before a child is born, to name a few initiatives.
A 2008 study titled, The Role Of Organizational Culture In Employees’ Work-Life Balance As An Aspect Of Health, by Steingerdur Ólafsdottir, finds the following traits, among others, that make an organization’s culture work-life supportive:
- Flat organizational structure
- Give team members access to tools that help them achieve improved work-life balance. Asana, Slack, Dropbox, Basecamp, Yammer, and Trello are some of the collaboration tools that help keep team members located at various regions on the same page. Managing a flexible workforce isn’t the same as managing traditional team members. Yahoo learned its lesson the hard way; it banned telecommuting a couple of years back because its work from home employees hadn’t logged in for months yet they kept drawing their paychecks. To avoid such costly mistakes, it’s important to train your managers in the areas of communication, result tracking and the use of technology for effective flexible work management.