Achieving a work-life balance today is an even more difficult task than a few decades ago. As Mr. Daniel Smith points out: “Live a life that is well balanced; don’t do things in excess.” It is surely easier said than done, but all we can do is give it our best shot. In this article, we are going to explore the importance of work-life balance, why employers should pay more attention to it, how can they promote it, and what all of us can do to help us to strike the perfect balance for ourselves. As always, go and grab that favorite drink of yours, and let us dive in.
Why is a work-life balance important nowadays?
Just to get things clear, work-life balance has always been important. Baby boomers just didn’t have the luxury to ask for it. For them, it was way more important to be employed, rather than insisting on employers give them bean bags, a hot-coco machine, and a room filled with PlayStations, which on the other hand is typical for Millenials (It’s a joke, Millenials, we love you). The in-between Gen Xers emphasize a lot more on work-life balance, after seeing the after-effects of their parents (baby boomers) who broke their backs working long hours.
Today work-life balance and a flexible work environment definitely are taken even more seriously. As an employer, it’s essential to promote and invest in a healthy work environment. Most of the aspects of a flexible work environment before are now considered as a baseline. Some of them often include:
- Ability to work from home
- Flexible working hours
- Opportunities for professional and personal growth
- Additional days off
- Frequent team building/bonding events
- Child/Pet Care Options
The easiest way for employers to promote a healthy work-life balance is to give their employees the freedom and responsibility to decide what works best for them. This has to be moderated of course, in order to avoid exploitation. For example, people who have children might want to come in early, so they can leave in time, to pick up their kids from school. Alternatively, night owls and younger people might prefer to come in later and stay a bit longer. If you hypothetically are a manager, and you tell your employees they have to be in the office from 10 to 4, in order to be able to organize day-to-day tasks and meetings easier, you will definitely be on the right track to creating a healthier, more flexible work environment.
Healthy employees are probably the number one asset in an organization. They tend to focus on work better, and complete tasks without compromising quality, which increases overall employee productivity and job satisfaction. And when those two parameters are on the high end, employee turnover decreases. We all heard stories of the work-life balance in Japan, where sometimes employees are forced to work overtime, due to high demand, and a lot of them can’t even apply for their 20 days of annual leave because of the harsh working culture. On the other hand, an example of a good work-life balance can be made with Etsy, which received a score of 3.9/5 for work-life balance from its employees and was included in Glassdoor’s list of companies that offer healthy work-life balance.
How did employer features change after covid?
When the pandemic hit our homes became our offices and remote work became a necessity rather than a perk. When that happened a lot of us found out how much time and effort we actually put into our work. During that time a lot of people realized that they have been neglecting their well-being and that they focused too much time on their work, and didn’t spend enough time out of it, to enjoy life in general. We feel that the majority of people understood the importance of having hobbies and pursuing passions outside of work, therefore after the mass amount of layoffs people started their own creative/business journeys as blacksmiths, carpenters, artists, photographers, vloggers, etc.
After things slowly got back to normal, businesses were faced with new challenges when hiring new people and keeping their existing employees happy and healthy. Managers and recruiters had to get more creative. The former leaned on creating a framework for developing a balanced approach between professional and personal lives in the workplace. Some of the critical work-life strategies can include:
Culture of trust – managers should allow employees to be responsible for their performance and trust them that they will get the job done, rather than micromanaging, which oftentimes is counter-productive.
Open communication – managers should allow an open flow of communication between them and the employees. Sometimes people just have a lot going on and their performance at the job can be hindered. By having the opportunity to openly communicate with their managers, those types of personal issues can be addressed and possibly be given space to be resolved.
Flexibility – managers should give the ability to employees to work flexible hours and to have flexible annual paid leave policies. That should increase overall job satisfaction and possibly reduce the employee turnover rate.
Workplace perks – managers should invest in workplace perks in order to let employees enjoy some time off and refresh their minds. Spending more hours at the desk doesn’t always equate to more productivity.
Employer branding and the importance of showcasing the right features for future employees.
A strong workplace culture that promotes a healthy work-life balance, is a powerful recruiting tool. Securing top talent across all industries has always been difficult. If you provide an impressive well-being policy and your employer branding successfully communicates it to the world, then attracting the right talent should become a lot easier. It’s a fact that millennials are more willing to take a job, with a favorable company culture over a higher salary. Stating what you stand for as an organization clearly has an impact. Talent will be attracted to you.
By promoting a healthy work-life balance you increase the possibility of existing employees referring future candidates. This is widely acknowledged as an effective means of hiring. Your employees know the company culture well and can know if a person will be a good fit. If your organization offers a flexible and supportive environment at work, the people inside will be eager to share the news with their friends.
As workplaces become busier and more connected, it is more important than ever to try to move toward achieving a work-life balance for employers and employees. Having a company culture that promotes work-life balance is also good for recruitment. It can be a key differentiator between different companies for a candidate, and it’s a great way to attract top talent to your business. A better work-life balance will inevitably lead to better retention, greater longevity within the industry, and, perhaps most importantly, better well-being for everyone working within it.