How to help your people achieve a good work-life balance

work-life balance

A good work-life balance is often the most important thing in people’s working lives.

In 2019, a YouGov poll commissioned by Acas found that balancing work and home life was the most important thing to respondents for the year ahead.

Then we fast-forward to this year, with the world having seen a pandemic and widespread remote working since that poll was undertaken. The importance that people place on a work-life balance has only increased. In a recent Randstand survey, 65% of respondents put work-life balance as top of their priority list when seeking a new employer.

That applies to both blue-collar and white-collar workers, with 59% of blue-collar workers putting it top of their list and 68% of white-collar workers.

In light of National Work Life Week 2021 (11-15 October 2021), our experts have summarised some of the key ways you can help support your employees and workers in achieving a good work-life balance. There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution – what works for one individual might not work for another.

However, taking steps to help support your employees and workers is not only incredibly important for their wellbeing – it is also vital for helping keep employees engaged and enthusiastic, which in turn maintains good productivity in your business.

 

The UK’s current approach to a work-life balance

A Randstand evaluation of current employer offerings revealed that work-life balance is sixth in their order of priorities. Looking at the general perception of what employers across the UK offer as a whole, work-life balance slips down to eighth place, showing a nationwide oversight on the value of a balanced work and home life.

Additionally, the CIPD’s ranking puts the UK 24th out of 25 comparator economies based on a measure of how often job demands interfere with family life.

 

What causes a poor work-life balance?

The CIPD also found that three in five employees work longer hours than they would like to. Overwork is most common among managerial and professional workers.

It’s also more common among those who work from home, showing that flexible working may not always completely solve the problem of a poor work-life balance and may sometimes cause the boundaries between them to blur.

Factors such as overwork, commuting time, how much work encroaches on personal life and vice versa, and a lack of provision for flexible working can all impact on a person’s work-life balance.

 

Ways to improve a poor work-life balance

  • Flexible working – This is a key one. Flexible working is a fantastic way to balance home life and responsibilities with work life. Having a flexible working policy in place and properly considering all flexible working requests can help employees to stay engaged, motivated and productive. The latter is also a legal requirement. Check out our free guide here for more information on how to do this.
  • Managing workloads – Take a look at workloads and how your staff are coping – are they taking their work home? Discuss the individual’s task list and how you can help them with this. Is there any additional training that would help? Are there any technology solutions? Could work be redistributed  to help relieve the pressure on employees who are struggling – perhaps focusing certain employees on certain tasks would be more efficient?  However, employers must be careful not to change roles without consultation and work should still be distributed fairly.
  • Annual leave cover – Sometimes employees don’t take annual leave because they’re too stressed about getting their work done, and about the workload they’ll have when they return. To help, you could put a procedure in place that makes sure that workloads and responsibilities are allocated to other members of staff during annual leave. You could also encourage employees to take their leave during quieter periods so that their workload is less intense.
  • Encourage people to speak up – Making sure that you create a healthy workplace culture so that employees feel they can speak up if they are struggling to achieve balance or manage pressure is extremely important.
  • Train managers to help – Properly training line managers to monitor the wellbeing of their team and spot stress and overworking when it occurs can help address issues before they become too much. Also, ensure they check in with employees to review their workload regularly.
  • Encourage breaks – Whether that’s during the working day or by using annual leave, time off is important to prevent burnout and achieve balance. Making sure people make good use of their lunch breaks can help too – why not look to put on lunchtime exercise, relaxation or mindfulness classes?
  • Let people seek external help – Allowing employees to go to counselling, support and wellbeing services during working hours as they would for other medical appointments can help them feel supported at work. You could also offer employees access to an Employee Assistance Programme as part of their work benefits.

 

How we can help

As always, please contact us for support in implementing these measures legally and fairly. While some of these suggestions aren’t covered by Employment Law and can be implemented however you see fit, some others – like flexible working – must be introduced through a set legal process.

Our friendly HR & Employment Law experts are here to help, 24/7. If you’re an existing client of ours, please call 0345 844 4848. If you’re not already a client of ours, please call 0345 844 1111 to find out more.

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