In everything, balance is essential. This is especially true for organizations and workplaces. A workplace with employees who feel they have balance between their work and their personal lives is likely to be a healthy and happy one. Organizations with employees who perceive having a good balance between work and personal lives are likely to also report feeling satisfied with their jobs, engaged, and committed to the organization. Employees who feel satisfied and committed are more likely to have better performance, lower turnover, miss fewer days of work, be more motivated, engaged in organizational citizenship behaviors, and less likely to partake in counterproductive behaviors (Aamodt, 2016). Therefore, the balance between work and life is important for a company’s bottom line. A survey by SHRM in 2002 showed 70 percent of employees reported an unhealthy balance between their work and personal lives, ranking family as the most important priority in their lives (Rife & Hall, 2015). More than ever, the evidence is apparent of a need for organizations to improve on the balance of the work and personal lives of employees.
To obtain a healthy and balanced workplace, many factors need to be considered from various aspects of the organization. The balance needs to be seen in management and supervisors, environment, policies and procedures, payroll, benefits, training, social responsibility, and health and wellness programs to name a few (Workplaces that work, n.d.).
With the growing number of workers caring about work/life balance, especially Millennials who are predicted to comprise half the workforce by 2020, it’s vital to evaluate and update the organization in ways to effectively help employees obtain the satisfaction of work/life balance while keeping the company goals in mind. Successfully doing this can be a difficult and slow process. However, here are some ways your company can increase employee work/life balance. While many different types of people desire a balance between work and personal life, it is important when implementing these applications, they should be broad enough to meet the needs of everyone, including single employees, couples without children, as well as parents (Rife & Hall, 2015).
So, how can organizations help employees with work/life balance? There are 4 areas to consider Culture, Benefits, Dependent Care, and Health and Wellness Programs.
Organizational culture starts from the top down. Executives and managers have to lead by example providing the organizational support needed. Any policies and procedures established to create margin between employees’ work and family lives should be followed and enforced, including those promoting job-satisfaction. If your company wants to prevent its employees from responding to emails after 7 p.m., it’s important for managers to encourage employees to avoid responding after 7 pm and for those managers to follow that same rule modeling the way. Even if the rule is set in place, but managers do not follow it, employees will feel inclined or even required to check and respond to emails after work hours, which will eventually lead to work-to-family spillover.
Work hours and job design should be evaluated and any necessary changes made where warranted. Whether it’s allowing flexible hours, telecommuting, or job sharing, there are many things that can be done to improve work-life balance.
Organizational culture is hard to change and it can be a slow process; however it is one of the most important things for job-satisfaction. Any negative norms should be eliminated. Some of these negative norms include requiring everyone to stay until 6 p.m. even if all of their work for the day is completed and stressful environments that are demanding and lacking in recognition or positive feedback.
Incentives and benefits encouraging work and non-work domains are very important, especially in attracting and retaining great employees. Giving vacation and requiring employees to take a certain amount per year is just one very common incentive. Benefits are very vast and varying. It is important to have the typical health benefits such as affordable insurance plan options and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), but offering some of the atypical ones as well can make the difference. Some of these include health and wellness programs including fitness programs at low or no cost, dependent care options, education and training programs available to everyone, reward and recognition programs, and stress management assistance.
- Dependent Care
Approximately 20 percent of all paid employees are women with at least one child under 12 years of age at home, leading parents to be more likely to feel the stress of the imbalance of work and life (Workplaces that work, n.d.). Some dependent care options include, on-site dependent care, seasonal childcare programs (for when others are closed), financial assistance, referral information for discounted care, and offering personal days (instead of having to use sick or vacation time).
- Health and Wellness Programs
The health of a company’s employees is one of the most important factors. Unhealthy employees can be costly in a variety of ways. Some ways an organization can encourage employee health and wellness are offering fitness programs through on-site workshops and classes and gym membership assistance; providing convenient and affordable clinics, health assessments, and vaccinations; encouraging exercise during lunch hours; and offering smoke cessation incentive programs, secure bicycle parking, affordable, healthy lunch options, among many other things (Workplaces that work, n.d.). Perhaps encouraging employees to start a health club will lead to more creative options and encourage other employees to get involved and have fun in the meantime.
While every organization and its employees are different, to have happy and satisfied employees is vital to successful business practices. Therefore, it’s important to implement various strategies that facilitate employee work/life balance. Some implementations may work for some organizations but not others. It’s important to assess your organizational needs and culture as well as employees in determining the best solutions. The more an organization can do to promote happier and healthier employees, the more of an asset they will be and the less of an opportunity for potential adverse effects.
Aamodt, M. G. (2016). Industrial/organizational psychology, an applied approach. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
Rife, A. & Hall, R. (2015). Work-life balance. Bowling Green, OH. Retrieved from: http://www.siop.org/WhitePapers/WorkLifeBalance.pdf
Workplaces that work. (n.d.). hrcouncil.ca. Retrieved from: http://hrcouncil.ca/hr-toolkit/workplaces-health-safety.cfm
Radhika, C. (2017). Work-life balance. Retrieved from: http://radhikacruz.com/work-life-balance/