Work-life balance is one of the top priorities for employees. A recent study found that when it comes to choosing an employer, work-life balance was the most important factor for 65% of respondents. That puts work-life balance ahead of salary, job security, training and a good work atmosphere.
So if you want to retain your existing employees – and attract new ones – it’s crucial to cultivate a culture of work-life balance. Keep reading for our top work-life balance tips for every employer.
What is work-life balance?
Work-life balance refers to how employees prioritise their professional life versus their personal ones, and how much work people take home at the end of each day. Many people struggle to manage the delicate balance, especially in increasingly challenging work cultures – in fact, research by Glassdoor found that 52% of UK employees say that their work frequently eats into their personal time. The study also found that 66% of workers were planning to make changes in their life to improve the balance between work and play.
Why is work-life balance important?
Work-life balance can be affected by several key factors. One is the amount of time spent at work. Well-designed office space can help, however, long hours can impact an individual’s mental and physical health and increase stress, leading to burnout – or even worse. A study by the World Health Organisation found that, in 2016, 398,000 people died from stroke and 347,000 from heart disease as a result of working at least 55 hours a week.
The number of people working long hours has only increased due to the surge in home working. Research has found that employees in the UK have increased their working week by almost 25%, and that 44% of UK employees are expected to do more work now that they’re working from home.
Despite having more time in the day due to a lack of commute, many employees are simply using this extra time to work more, taking shorter lunch breaks, working when they feel ill, and doing work in the evenings due to the blurring of lines between home and work life.
Additionally, more time spent at work means less time to spend on hobbies and leisure, again impacting health and wellbeing – especially if staff are putting in extra hours, whether because their employer expects that, or simply because there’s no distinction between work time and personal time.
Employers can contribute to their employees’ work-life balance by creating a culture in the workplace that supports them in finding a balance that’s right for their personal circumstances. This can help to support their health, improve their productivity, and ensure they become more engaged at work.
Work-life balance strategies for the workplace
Now you know why work-life balance is important, how do you go about improving it at work?
Let your teamwork the way they want to
A recent study carried out by the University of Strathclyde found that 78% of respondents want to work in the office for two days or less, and 31% stated that they want to work from home full time. That means that you’re likely to have a mixture of people who want to work from home, those who want to work from the office, and others who prefer hybrid working.
Having an office space will ensure you can support those team members who prefer to work in an office environment, and the high-speed broadband connection offered in our serviced offices ensures that you’ll always have a good connection with those who work from home.
Allow employees to work when they want
As well as working from wherever suits them best; many employees appreciate the flexibility of being able to work at the times that best fit their life. The typical 9-5 doesn’t work for everyone, whether due to the school run, caring responsibilities, part-time jobs, hobbies or other commitments. The Gartner 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey found that 43% of respondents said flexibility in working hours helped them achieve greater productivity, so flexible working doesn’t just benefit your staff, but your business too.
Breaks can help your employees’ process tasks, get more creative, and be more productive. Encourage your team to get away from their desks during breaks and at lunchtime. You could even start doing walking meetings for one-to-one catch-ups and other meetings that don’t require presentations or videos and get some fresh air during the working day.
Review workloads with regular check-ins
Some staff might ask if they’re struggling, so it’s important for managers to schedule regular check-ins with their direct reports to ensure workloads are manageable. This helps to encourage a culture of communication between employers and leaders, which is vital for increasing employee engagement and job satisfaction.
Review your benefits package
What do you offer that supports your team’s health and wellness? Employee benefits platform Perkbox found that the top three benefits desired by employees are:
- Employee discounts (52%)
- Greater recognition for their work (42%)
- Unlimited holidays or a greater holiday allowance (41%)
Other employees, particularly the younger generation, want benefits that will enhance their emotional wellbeing. For employees aged 25-34, 41% want time off for mental health, and 34% of 18-24-year-olds would like free counselling sessions provided by their employer.
With the increase in hybrid working, many companies are saving on traditional office space. Employees are encouraging their companies to use their newly found savings on coworking spaces, which are both cheaper than traditional offices, and benefit staff work-life balance.
Ask your employees what benefits would mean the most to them, and you can start to build out a package of employee benefits that support them to create a healthy work-life balance.
Developing your work-life balance strategy
Ultimately, the key to developing a workplace that encourages work-life balance is to recognise that every employee is different and that you should speak to your staff to find out what matters to them most. Whether that means renting out a coworking space where your staff can thrive, or switching up your benefits package, you’ll soon see the benefits of work-life balance in your employee’s attitudes, engagement, and productivity.