The Work-Life Balance Dilemma

It’s a buzz word that’s thrown around a lot these days. The work-life balance question pops up frequently in discussions of company culture and workforce management (particularly in a world where more and more employees seem to be struggling just to survive their competitive, fast-paced lifestyles).

Apparently, some managers take work-life balance in their companies very seriously while others simply don’t believe such a thing exists (hmmm).

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, stated in her New York Times bestseller Lean In; “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life and there’s no balance.” She recalls pumping breast milk during conference calls and answering emails when she was home.

If there is a balance, striking it may prove tricky.

If your human resource management is looking to gradually improve your organisation’s handling of work-life balance, here are a few tips that could help.

 First things first – education begins at managerial levels

HR management has to begin planning workplace policies and setting up proper internal communication tools in order to help co-workers establish/maintain boundaries between their personal and professional lives. It’s likely that all of this can’t happen without the seamless cooperation of managers.

Think of time management as an integral step

Poor time management can be considered one of the biggest culprits, stealing precious moments for productivity or personal attention. HR teams should constantly deploy appropriate training in time management for all employees. A reduction in non-essential movements/processes (as well as instances of working late to catch up on workloads) can help workers become less stressed out and more productive at the same time.

Embrace the era of flexibility

The modern workplace has brought us so many modes of operating that hold flexibility to be a core value. There are now companies that allow entire teams to work from home and (even though you might not expect it) this has actually been proven to increase productivity in some instances. However, flexibility is still a concept that many employees (let alone employers) may have some reservations about.

Aside from attempting to improve your organisation by implementing ‘flexi-time’, part-time or remote working, some employees may even have personal circumstances which require certain degrees of flexibility for them to be able to fulfil commitments (such as an unexpected family sickness or having to care for an ageing parent). Whatever their circumstances, granting a little leeway might not hurt your business as much as you think.

Establish downtime conditions

The digital age also presents us with the ability to communicate 24/7 through technological tools. With practically non-stop communication becoming a habit in business, the lines between work and personal life can also seem to blur. Put a stop to working through lunch breaks or responding to emails at home through personal devices.

HR will need to intervene when work begins to invade into the lives of employees whether they are on holiday or in the bathroom. Encourage ‘digital breaks’ during work days to add pockets of technology-free time to the day and establish a limit to lines of communication when workers aren’t supposed to be working. Be as particular about work-related activities entering their downtime as you are about non-work-related activities entering their work time.

Integrate work-life balance into company culture

Go beyond simply including the topic of work-life balance as a sidenote in company handbooks or employee orientation initiatives. Make it a core part of your organisation. If you want work-life balance to gradually turn into a habit, you should use a combination of the tactics above (among other measures) and create a culture based around core aspects of work-life balance. Begin quarterly seminars or employee engagement activities that help employees understand the mechanics and importance of work-life balance. Make teaching better work and personal habits and having open discussions about managing workloads part and parcel of daily life at your company.

Ultimately, work-life balance isn’t some mysterious puzzle that’s far out of the reach of ordinary businesses. You can see it simply as a set of habits and initiatives that, when gradually implemented, can form the foundation for a healthier, happier and more productive workforce. Executives should be convinced that it isn’t impossible and that there are many ways to get it done.

At TraitQuest, we aim to bridge the gap between employee and employer relationship by providing a robust talent management, employee engagement and talent retention system. As strong believers in growth and progress, our continuous efforts leverage on data-driven decision making, derived traits profiling, workplace gamification via a well-rounded multi-level engagement platform which ensures organisation to achieve top level productivity. To sum up our value proposition – we provide enterprise cloud-based solutions for workflow management and collaboration to drive employees’ motivation and engagement, cultivate a healthy corporate culture thereby retaining your valued employees. We are one of the recipients of HR Vendor of the Year 2018 for Best HR Start Up Company in Malaysia.

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