Work life balance is about how you prioritize your time and energy between professional life and personal life. It’s been proven time and again that Happy people work hard. In fact happiness and productivity are complimentary terms. So for an organisation to thrive it is vital that the employees stay happy. Of late companies have understood this philosophy and are investing more on employee support and welfare schemes. As the adage goes “Money cannot buy happiness” companies are going towards giving personalised benefits to their employees like paid vacations, work from home options, etc. This strategy works and the results are quite stupefying.
According to the latest TeamLease Staffing Solution’s study conducted in India’s Metropolitan cities, 73% of employees in Delhi cited workload as the major cause for stress. According to an ILO (International Labour Organisation) survey, Indian employers are lagging behind when compared to employers of global markets in granting privileged leaves for employees. More than 51% of the employers say that they do not encourage employees to take formal leaves and time offs. At the same time, when asked about the key changes observed in employees after returning from the vacation, a majority of the employers acknowledged that they noticed a positive change in employee’s attitude, engagement and productivity.
So how can you provide a better work life balance to employees?
Count productivity, not working hours: Focus on the work done or productivity of an employee, instead of the hours they spend at their desk or on the shop floor. It gives flexibility to employees trying to balance their personal life and office work simultaneously. According to a Stanford education report, the productivity of employees working for 40 hours per week is two- thirds higher than employees working for 60 hours per week.
Flexible work week: On a related note, give your employees the option of a four-day week and 10 hours/day, instead of a regular 5-day work week of 8 hours/day. Employees will get an extra day to spend with their family, leading to a big improvement in their work life balance. According to a World at Work survey in the U.S., 89% of organisations support a flexible workplace, but only 3% measure performance, engagement, and productivity to quantify ROI.
Share work life balance tips with employees: Create awareness on the benefits of staying fit and stress by adopting practices like yoga, meditation, etc. Companies can organize training sessions on these as well periodically that will motivate employees to lead their life stress free, which in turn will increase productivity.
Allow employees to work from home (Telecommuting): Give employees freedom to work from home on at least some days of the week, so that they can telecommute and use technology to stay connected and collaborate with other team members. According to a flexjobs survey, work from home or telecommuting is increasing steadily with 103% growth rate over the last 10 years or so. In the last year alone, the growth rate was 6.5%. The key reason for it being increasingly popular among employers is the increased rate of productivity exhibited by employees who are given the freedom to work from home. Proximity to young children make parents stress free which translates to more work.
Restrict work hours: It is important for every employee to take adequate breaks on a weekly basis. That’s why we have the system of working days and off days / weekends. People generally tend to stretch their work over weekends if they are given the flexibility. But it takes a toll on their health without them realising it. To restrict that most companies have introduced strict working hours. The facilities like internet connection, power, etc are withdrawn beyond the working hours. It helps the employee to take the necessary break and also indirectly trains them to complete the work with quickly… It’s a win win for both parties.
Vacations: Vacations can be made mandatory. Stipulated instructions to be given to the related teams not to contact employees during vacations unless it is an emergency. This will help the employees to enjoy their vacation guilt free. According to a CCH Human Resource Management study, more than 50% of employees felt relaxed, rejuvenated and reconnected to their personal life, and 40% of employees feel more productive when returning from vacations.
Offer maternal/paternal leave : Managing a new addition in the family with the responsibilities of work is not an easy task. Women have proved they can contribute equally as men in work places. It makes companies morally responsible to take care of their women employees. Maternity leaves provided for ample time is essential for women employees for them to resume work happily.
Tech tools: Update your processes/methods to make use of automation and tech tools. For example, Tablets/smartphones and cloud-based software will allow employees to work and collaborate from anywhere, at any time. Similarly, video conferencing tools will reduce travel and meeting costs and save employees’ time.
On the contrary TeamLease Staffing Solution’s study in Bangalore states that 74% of the employees felt stress (pressured) due to advancements in technology. This indicates that you have to be very careful with your selection of tech tools. Adequate training is required to keep the employees at par with technological advancements.
CEOs are the role models for their employees and who else can best demonstrate the benefits of staying health and work efficiently to the employees?. Hence it is important for CEOs also to have clarity and focus. Let’s take a look at the most easy and important steps CEOs can take to achieve this goal.
Early to bed and early to rise: It’s always good to wake up early before sunrise, as it helps in building a positive thought process, peace and good health. Get a headstart. It will give you more time to organise and execute your work day – state of top business leaders start early.
Clearly Stated Goals: Having clearly stated goals and objectives will help you in being more focused and productive in your work. Put them on post-its or make ‘to-do-list’ etc. to keep track of the things you need to get done for the day.
Respect boundaries: Compartmentalising your work and personal life issues will help keep work tensions out of your personal life, and vice versa. So as far as possible, don’t bring your work home. By the same token, don’t spend work hours on personal issues. Establishing such boundaries between your work and personal life will help improve both the quality of your life and productivity at work.
Schedule daily work and prioritize wisely: Schedule a day before you start work by prioritizing the most essential work to be done on that day. After that, you can follow up with the rest of the action items. You can use a calendar and scheduling tools such as liquidplanner.com, mindtools.com etc.
Use technology: On a related note, there are lots of tools and technologies that will make your life easier at work and help you be more productive. For example: According to latest workplace communications and cultural report conducted by Highfive.com, 72% of employees have used their personal mobile phones for work purposes.
Physical fitness: Being fit and healthy by eating well and doing physical exercise consistently helps in reducing mental stress and helps in increasing peace of mind and happiness, all of which will once again make you more productive at work. According to Quantum workplace, employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes per day for three days are 15 % more productive.
Time with spouse and children: Spending time with family, friends and your community members will increase the quality of your personal life. Taking regular vacations with family and friends is likewise a good way to regain your energy and will to drive yourself harder at work.