Not long ago, employment was simply a means to an end. You went to work, ploughed through the week and took home a salary to pay the bills. Now, however, employers realise that giving staff a better work-life balance benefits everyone. It’s a policy that’s becoming increasingly important as Gen Z, the new wave of young employees, joins the workforce.
Maintaining a comfortable split between the responsibilities of working hours and family or leisure time is a good work-life balance. It doesn’t have to be an even split, but it should leave an employee with a positive attitude, feeling all that time they spend at work is worthwhile.
How does a healthy work-life balance benefit staff?
- More time with family and friends – less time at the office means they spend more with the people who matter to them most
- More opportunities for physical exercise and hobbies – staff can enjoy more sporting or leisure pursuits, improving physical and mental wellbeing
- Increased productivity – staff will tend to work harder in a shorter timeframe, acknowledging they have a reward for doing so
- Stronger mental wellbeing – a reduction in workplace stress brings huge benefits, with staff happier in the workplace and being more positive about the employer
- Greater motivation – employees will want to maintain a good work-life balance and will be motivated to do well at work
What about employers?
All the benefits to staff have a knock-on plus side for the business. A better work-life balance for the workforce means:
- A more engaged and motivated team – wise people say positivity breeds positivity.
- Lower absenteeism – a happier and less-stressed workforce will take fewer sick days.
- Reduced staff turnover (saving on recruitment costs) – staff will be less inclined to leave if they’re happier at work.
- Increased productivity – the workforce will be energised to work harder together, boosting your results.
- More flexibility over working time – changing working patterns offers business the opportunity to improve its flexibility and availability to customers.
What can business do to promote a work-life balance?
There are two key ways of allowing staff to enjoy more time away from work. Firstly, a business can shorten or be flexible with working hours. Secondly, it can remove the “always on” mentality of staff addressing work emails or taking work calls out of hours. While moving to a four-day week or a nine-day fortnight is an option, so too is agreeing that commute time should be part of the working day.
That’s because many workers spend their commute addressing work emails, both inthe morning and evening. The stress (and cost) of commuting might, therefore, be reduced if addressed in this way. Flexible working is a big step forward in addressing work-life balance issues. There is a range of options, any of which must suit the business as well as the employee to work.
Here are five of them:
- Flexi-time – moving away from the culture of 9 to 5, allowing staff to work hours more suited to their circumstances.
- Job sharing – splitting a full-time position between two people working fewer hours.
- Compressed hours – perhaps moving to a four-day week by a combination of shortening hours and reducing breaks on the four days.
- Phased retirement – working fewer hours or shifting to part-time as retirement approaches (or beyond retirement age).
We asked Mitrefinch employees what they got up to with their flexi-time recently. Here’s what they said…
You can find out more about the benefits of these approaches in our full Flexible Working Guide for free.