There is this golden balance, this muddles the line between career and family life. It has been a challenge for ambitious and driven people since time immemorial. On one hand, you have your career in front of you, your passion, and your life’s work. On the other hand, you have life, family, friends, your health… In fact, you might have other passions besides your own job. And this may shock you even more – it’s not only you, but your employees have lives outside of the office as well, and it’s your job as a person in authority to encourage this.
Namely, whether you want to or not, the modern workforce wants greater control, and more options. It wants to have more say in how their lives are lead, and they will require appropriate changes in how things are run around the office. Different working conditions, better management, better tech – all things that might be necessary and part of keeping a work-life balance.
Now, just in case you thought helping your employee’s live balanced lives isn’t that important, know that there are actually many benefits. Namely, people will gain a sense of control, they will take more ownership of their lives if they can leave work at work, and keep home at home, all the while not letting one encroach upon the other. The core benefits here can be seen through an improvement in employee productivity, creativity, as well as a better company reputation.
People will respect your company more if they notice that you provide people with the right tools and work environment to lead properly balanced lives. In this day and age, people expect companies to stay on course, to treat their employees properly. People are becoming more and more aware of just the importance of companies respecting employees as much as employees respect them. This reputation boost can get you more clients, better marketing, and just might attract the crème of the crop as far as employees are concerned.
Next, your employees will be more motivated. With a better work and life balance, with a nice ratio of relaxation and work, people will look forward to the office a lot more. A good balance means better rest, batteries will be recharged, and your standard employee will be much happier.
Finally, your employees will become more creative. When people are happier and don’t suffer too much stress, they are better at problem-solving. Now, some pressure is needed, but the pressure of work itself should be enough. Bringing work home will just lead them to over-inflate and overthink a problem at moments where what is actually needed is stepping back, letting the issue go, and coming back to it later.
You might be asking why HR plays such a critical role in encouraging work-life balance. What is your role here, why can’t your employees do this themselves? It’s very difficult because people will retreat to what works, stick to the short term. A job is one's livelihood, and rocking the boat requires a very specific type of person. Overly driven and ambitious people have difficulty, by their very natures, to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Others might simply not notice its importance, or might not have the wish to express their thoughts and opinions. This is where you come in.
Namely, all the benefits that have been listed above, things like the work environment, company reputation, drawing in stronger candidates, higher productivity, and greater creativity, these should all help you understand just how important encouraging work-life balance in the office is.
Now, talk without action doesn’t mean that much. It’s good that you are aware of these issues, but an upstanding HR practitioner needs to put these things into practice. The best way to encourage this kind of balance in the office is through leading by example, and by implementing actual programmes and options. Sure, letting people become more aware of the entire situation is great, helping them understand just how important this type of balance is can be vital. However, you need to take a more active part in this, actually change the environment at the company.
So, there are several systems you can implement in your company. Things like…
One of the more important parts of a work-life balance is getting enough exercise. Exercise is a vital part of an adult’s life, we should all do at least 30 minutes per day. People who exercise regularly are healthier, they have more energy, and the chances of them getting sick are much lower. This means they will miss out on work less often, they will have fewer sick days and will be generally happier and more positive.
So, one of the things you can do is donate fitness equipment or gym memberships.
And make an effort, too. A gym membership for a tetanus-laden place with no air-conditioning, open during your own work hours won’t matter much. Invest in a nice place where people can work out. If you’re donating gear, don’t go with the cheapest brand. Rather, do your homework, read up on types of bicycles and quality bicycle accessories that can be used for your area and city, get yoga mats and balls that don’t fall apart after a week of use. And mix things up a little. Provide people with free passes to a pool, or some type of seasonal physical activity, like ice skating, or beach volleyball. You can also promote competitions, charity races, and marathons, drives, and competitions.
If you want to go all out, you can invest in a gym facility within your office building. They can then use this gym during their break, giving them a boost during the day. Or, they can simply get their work done at the office, get their workout finished after their nine to five is done, and then simply go home and relax, knowing that at least these two vital obligations have been dealt with.
Another thing you can try to implement in your organisation is just changing up how things are done. For example, something that has proven very effective and useful in the business world is simply allowing people to have a flexible work schedule. With flexible hours, people can organise their lives much better. They might prefer getting into the office very early, or maybe around noon. This allows them to spend an hour more with family, or take their kids to school much more easily. Flexible hours allow people to also figure out when they are most productive, and then they can work accordingly.
You can also think about letting people work from home. This, of course, greatly hinges on the type of work the relevant employee is doing. However, try to be flexible too. Maybe you can have people work out of the office from time to time. People will definitely appreciate working from home – they can keep an eye on their kids or pets, maybe get some chores done on their lunch breaks, and are generally more comfortable and relaxed. Be lenient. Don’t force people to come to the office if they really don’t have to (if your work is project-based of course).
If you want to show your employees that you care about the notion of work-life balance, then we suggest you implement certain childcare services. Namely, you don’t stop being a parent once you enter an office. Kids are always on a parent's mind, and being understanding of this part of life is vital. One of the ways you can show that you indeed understand this and that you can then further encourage a work-life balance is by providing onsite childcare facilities.
Namely, with facilities like these, your employees can still check on their children. Furthermore, it mitigates and minimises the stress of having to find and handle a babysitter. And if you really can’t get this implemented, then keep a list of new, young parents. Cut them some slack, give them some room to breathe, allow them some extra flexibility. Show them that you care and that you are willing to learn how to compromise and to make life a bit easier for them.
As a HR practitioner, it is your duty to keep your company successful (or part of it you control), and your employees motivated. One of the best ways you can achieve productivity and high morale is by encouraging a good work-life balance in the office. Do this by allowing people to be flexible with their time. Giving freedom to your employees, allowing them to work from home when they aren’t needed in the office, letting them choose their own hours, this all can lead to greater efficiency and a happier office. Furthermore, encouraging physical activity, promoting some athletic charity events, and in general, assisting people in leading healthier lifestyles all ads to a stronger workplace and happier people living balanced lives.
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