The phrase work-life balance is mentioned a lot, but what does it mean in reality?
For many employees it is something that is in constant flux, a work-life balance is not something they have found, or certainly not perfected. Even when someone might appear to have a decent work-life balance, there is still stress, a concern act the balance could be better or that it could fall apart in future.
A surgery in 2018 suggested that 75% of workers are concerned about their work-life balance, clearly it is a universal problem.
What, though, does this mean for an employer? Is it something to just accept – everyone has work-life balance concerns so ultimately they’re not that big a deal – or is it something they can help with.
Are there also benefits to helping an employee find that work-life balance?
At EnjoyBenefits we believe it matters greatly, for both employer and employee, as we will expand upon in this post. For the employee, it is important to have a life that feels fulfilled and in which home life is not very much secondary to work life.
For employers, having happy, stress free staff has benefits too, retention rates are higher, motivation leads to higher output and better collaborative work. Good employees will stay where they feel welcomed and in a workplace that helps them achieve that work-life balance, when the opposite occurs, they may look for alternate employment or to leave the labour force entirely.
What does this mean in reality? A great work-life balance might be ideal but how can it be achieved?
Employers can put things in place to help out in both the short and long term, our role at EnjoyBenefits is to focus more on the long term, but we will briefly touch upon the shorter time period.
Immediate steps can be making it easier for employees to fit work around immediate concerns. If an employee has a sudden childcare emergency, can they have provision to work from home? Can greater flexibility to work be built in to work – does it matter what start and end time an employee has if they get the work done. Working into the evening and even at night might suit many employees with young children to consider.
This can just be an ethos, a sense that the employer is understanding, an employee knowing that if they phone in with a genuine childcare issue it will be met with understanding and an acceptance that this issue needs fixing before any work can occur, rather than a fear of what the boss will say.
Longer term though it is better to have structures in place to help employees achieve that work-life balance and this is where a range of benefits can be key.
It could be workplace nursery provision, where you team with a nursery and so have guaranteed childcare provision for young children. This benefit saves employees money – potentially thousands of pounds per year as the fees are taken out before tax – and also gives the convenience of childcare close to work. Better still, the employer contributes to the nursery through NI savings and employees with children at the nursery get a say on how this extra funding is spent.
An employee gets nursery places at a reduced rate at a nursery that has additional funding. As an employer, it works out cost neutral.
Another benefit could be reduced-price gym membership. Again, the membership fee is removed from an employee’s salary and so they can save money on something they would be looking to buy in any case. By offering this benefit, it also leads to employees mingling and socialising at the same gym or health club, creating a bond between employees.
There are many more schemes of this nature – cycle to work, discounted insurance, car leasing – all things that any employee requires, but that usually cost more and also take time to organise. Anything that helps save time and money is helping with an employee’s work-life balance and also showing that the business cares about its key asset – its employees.
Benefits do not have to be financial. There is one called the Employee Assistance Programme, this provides employees with a confidential, 24/7 advice line where they can talk through any concerns. It might be a financial concern, or that they are going through a divorce, or have suffered bereavement, or have depression.
The EAP gives them support, someone to talk to and the chance to get help and advice. It won’t, of course, necessarily solve the problem or make it disappear, but I can help – it can help the employee’s state of mind, it can help them balance the needs of work and home life and it can ultimately lead to a reduction in time away from the workplace.
Again, this benefit also shows an employer who cares – surely much of the concern about work-life balance stems from a fear of having to impress the employer and being worried about their reaction to any situation. Remove this fear, show a compassionate aside, and work-life balance can feel better. The fear of what might happen has gone.
At EnjoyBenefits, we are experts in helping employers create a set of benefits that provides that work-life balance for all employees. These benefits take little to no management from your side, they are cost neutral or even cost beneficial and they lead to motivated staff with higher retention rates. They are also a key draw in recruited the best new employees.
We can offer a bespoke package of benefits to suit your needs – too discuss, please contact us.