This week marks ‘National Work Life Week’ which aims to promote the importance of employers encouraging a healthy work life balance amongst their employees.
Many employers might struggle to see how their staff staying late at the office and working through their lunch breaks as well as at home could possibly be a bad thing. Surely they’ll get so much more done, right?
This isn’t necessarily true and what is much more likely is that you will end up with a large number of unhappy, unhealthy and completely burnt out employees. Still sound like a recipe for success?
In this article we will discuss the potential impact of poor work life balance within your organisation and ways in which you can promote a healthy balance.
First and foremost, a lack of a healthy work life balance can have a severe impact on your employees’ health, both mental and physical.
Stress, anxiety and depression are all common side effects of excessive tiredness from over-working. Employees suffering from these conditions will not only be less productive but are likely to be absent on a more regular basis and eventually leave. This would be detrimental enough if it was just one member of your team, now imagine if it began becoming commonplace throughout your organisation.
You have a certain responsibility as an employer to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your staff, however it is also in your own interest to do so. A workplace in which stress, anxiety and depression are rife is a toxic environment and will quickly become unproductive and result in the development of a negative company culture. Not only will this lead to your employees leaving but it can quickly create a bad reputation which will discourage people from joining you in the future.
Implications on employees’ physical health include increased likelihood to suffer from strokes, coronary heart problems and type 2 Diabetes. Needless to say none of these will serve your organisation in a positive way.
Promoting a healthy work life balance
As an employer, it is essential that you take action to ensure that your employees enjoy a healthy work life balance. As stated above, it really is within your best interest to do so but also should be a certain moral obligation.
There are a number of actions you can take to do this:
• Create the right company culture – Company culture is crucial when looking at work life balance. Many employees report that they stay late or work through their lunch break because they feel that they would be judged for not doing so. As discussed above, over-working can have detrimental effects on your employees’ health and therefore a company culture which makes people feel that they have to over-work is not a god thing. Look at the company culture in your organisation and assess what could be done to improve it in this way.
• Flexible working – Offering your employees flexible working hours allows them to take more control over their time. This, in turn, provides them with the opportunity to make time to pursue hobbies, interests and time with family and friends. If properly administered, flexible working provides a situation where employees are still working their contracted hours but also create dedicated time for their personal lives.
• Encourage use of annual leave – A recent study uncovered that a third of UK employees don’t use all of their annual leave entitlement and many admit to working when they do take holidays. Many worry about falling behind with their work whilst they’re away and dread what they will come back to. For these reasons they feel it is better to simply not use their holiday. Encouraging your employees to use their holiday entitlement and reassuring them that sufficient cover will be provided can go a long way to ensuring that they take some time out to relax and recharge their batteries. As a result, they will return to work with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
• Discourage constant late/home/lunch working – Sometimes it is necessary to work late, do some work at home or work through lunch. It might be that there is a particular project happening that requires these extra measures. As long as this is only on occasion, there is no problem. However if you have employees that are always working late and never take a lunch break then this something that you should address. Keep an eye out for this behaviour and make an effort to discourage it. Ascertain why this is the case, do they have enough support? Could tasks be delegated more effectively?
• Social events – Organising events that will allow your employees to get away from their desks and socialise can go a long way to boosting morale and build your teams. This will have a positive impact on their work as they will feel valued by their employer and closer to the other members of their team.
• Provide work life guidance – An increasing number of employers are making an extra effort to educate their employees on ways in which they can pursue a healthy work life balance. This includes providing information on the health implications as well as guidance on managing work loads. Training managers to identify signs of stress and depression and their causes is also an incredibly effective way to tackle poor work life balance early on.
An employer who shows no regard for their employees’ personal and social lives will likely find themselves with fewer of them before too long. Take the time to ensure that your team are happy and enjoying fulfilling lives outside of work You will find that these people work harder whilst they’re at work and happier doing so which will likely shine through in the quality of the work they do.