National Work Life Week takes place this week – 2nd to 6th October 2017 – and is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance. Employers can use the week to provide activities for staff and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices.
Half of the people in the UK want to work flexibly but, currently, less than one in ten jobs is advertised flexibly. Apparently, more than 10% of UK employees work over 50 hours a week. Excessive working hours lead to reductions in productivity but flexibility pays dividends in terms of employee engagement, motivation and loyalty.
Here are some things employers might do to help their employees:
- Highlight good examples of people working flexibly in your workforce, whether it’s because they have caring responsibilities, are pursuing interests outside of work or progressing towards retirement.
- Hold on a special event for staff like a lunchtime discussion on work-life balance, training for line managers on how to manage flexible staff, or ask a senior manager to share their insights on how they balance their time.
- Offer guidance to employees about how to use digital devices to support flexibility around when and where they work, rather than as a way to work ‘around the clock’.
- Showcase family-friendly working policies and practices in staff newsletters and on your intranet.
Support new ways of working
We’ve seen many changes in the workplace in the last ten years from the globalisation of work and demand for 24-hour service to changing demographics and attitudes towards work and the psychological contract.
Making a business case for flexible working is about more than wanting to accommodate certain employee groups – there is plenty of evidence that flexible working is “good for business”, that it enables you to meet customer demand, that it enables retention of skilled and experienced workers and it enhances productivity.
Organisations that are able to develop an agile, flexible approach to work will maximise engagement, wellbeing and on-going high performance, the key to business success. Promote flexible working and support the parents, carers, flexible workers and line managers in your organisation.
At 10Eighty we value flexibility and life-work balance is important. There is no better advice than that from 2001 given by the DTI “Work-life balance isn’t only about families and childcare; nor is it about working less. It’s about working ‘smart’, about being fresh enough to give all you need to both work and home, without jeopardising one for the other and it is a necessity for everyone, at whatever stage you are in your life.”
Achieving a good life balance is a continuous process – we need to unwind and feel in control of our lives. It doesn’t necessarily mean a reduction in productivity or working hours, viewed from a lifetime perspective life-work balance should take into account the trade-offs made between work and leisure as interests and commitments change during the course of life. One size does not fit all, it’s important to understand what your team need and what motivates them in order to formulate the best solution for your organisation.
Taking time away from the workplace takes you away from problems and challenges and helps put them in perspective. Albert Einstein had it sussed, saying: “although I have a regular work schedule, I take time to go for long walks on the beach so that I can listen to what is going on inside my head.”