Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash
As we approach the tail end of summer, and your employees start heading back from a few weeks in the sun, it seems like a good time to talk about work-life balance.
We have a poor reputation in the UK for work-life balance. We work some of the longest hours in Europe, averaging 39.2 hours per week, and many of us work even more than that.
A good work-life balance should be something we all strive for. Employees that are tired, stressed and over-stretched tend to be underproductive and can burn out. In contrast, employees that are relaxed and healthy can be more productive and are more likely to be engaged.
Companies with a culture that fosters a healthy work-life balance have shown reduced absenteeism and increased engagement. Furthermore, they become more attractive to workers and are capable of attracting a larger and more diverse pool of talent.
Have a More Flexible Attitude to Time Off
Are “take annual leave” or “call in sick” the only options for your employees to take time off? Can you afford to be a bit more flexible than that?
If an employee needs to stay at home to take delivery of a new washing machine, using annual leave at such short notice might not be possible, and calling in sick is dishonest. Implementing a policy such as Duvet Days or something similar would add to the perceived work-life balance of the employee, and granting them flexibility shows that you care about their well being.
Adopt Flexible Working
In addition to being flexible with time-off, being flexible with working hours can greatly improve an employee’s work-life balance.
Mentioned in most of the reviews of the companies in Glass Door’s 20 Highest Rated UK Companies for Work-Life Balance article, flexible working is a key factor in employees scoring their companies highly.
Flexible scheduling does not mean employees can arrive and leave whenever they see fit. As an employer, you get to set the rules. Maybe you have a core set of hours where you want all hands on desk (say between 9 am and 5 pm), but you’re flexible beyond that.
Mentioned in our “Pawternity” article, a 4 Day Work Week gives your employees 50% more weekend! Given the opportunity to work the same number of hours over 4 days instead of 5 in exchange for an extra day off, you might find some employees thrive in that type of schedule.
In the current age of ubiquitous Internet access and VOIP telephones, working from home is suddenly a much more viable option for a lot of employees. Whether full-time home working or just a couple of days a week, there’s no doubt working from home can greatly increase work-life balance.
One of the main concerns employers have with home working revolves around how to manage those employees. How can you tell they’re actually working and not watching Jeremy Kyle? The answer is: you can’t. But hopefully, you’re evaluating your employees on their output, not their ability to sit in front of a computer all day. So if they’re performing as you expect, then who cares if they take 20 minutes out to watch terrible TV?
Encourage Employees to Take Their Holiday Entitlement
While the average full-time UK employee is entitled to 28 days’ annual leave, studies show that around half of us never use all of our entitlement.
It’s important for your employees to feel well rested, and holidays create the opportunity for them to recharge their batteries and return to work more productive and with greater focus. Holidays don’t have to be about packing up the car or jumping on a plane. Employees can even benefit from taking a few days to potter around the house, catching up on odd jobs and resting.
If you’re still not convinced, we do the deep dive on why it’s important to encourage your employees to take their entitlement in our article: Why Half of Your Employees Are Not Using Their Holiday Entitlement
Allow Employees to Buy Additional Holiday Entitlement
According to their website: “If an employee chooses to buy additional holidays, there will be a reduction in their salary to the value of the number of days’ holiday they have bought.”
The other perks offered range from discounted hotel booking and holidays to cruises and theme parks. Schemes like this can save employees hundreds of pounds on a holiday for the cost of a per pounds per head for the employer.
Drive Culture Change from the Top
If you want to engender a healthy company culture that promotes good work-life balance, then you need to drive that change from the top. If your senior managers aren’t taking annual leave, then your employees may feel like they have to match that example. Maybe your managers ARE taking their holidays, but are constantly responding to emails while they’re away? The example set to your employees is that they will also need to be available when they’re off.
Caring about the well-being of your employees not only demonstrates loyalty and creates an attractive environment for potential new hires, but ensuring your employees have a healthy work-life balance also creates a more engaged and focused workforce, so you get the best out of your people.
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