The perfect work-life balance is something we all aspire to, but it’s difficult to achieve. That’s because not only does the perfect work-life balance mean something different to every individual, but it can also mean different things to the same person over time.
In a study by Workplace Trends, three-quarters (75%) of employees listed work-life balance as their top priority. It is such an important criteria for employees, especially Millennials, that many companies are using their work-life balance policies as a selling point to recruit the best talent.
When it comes to the perfect work-life balance, there is no one-size-fits-all option that employers, and HR professionals, should be offering to their employees. We all have different priorities and different lives. So rather than striving for the perfect work-life balance perhaps we should be striving for an effective work-life balance?
What is an effective work-life balance?
Let’s start with what an effective work-life balance, is not. It is not about equal hours for our working life and our personal life; life is more fluid than that.
What an effective work-life balance is about is achievement and enjoyment. Achievement and enjoyment are, in most cases, the reason we go work:
- To do a good job (achievement)
- To have a holiday with friends or family (enjoyment)
- To have a better income (achievement)
- To put the kids through university (achievement)
- To afford to do hobbies (enjoyment)
- To socialise and meet people (enjoyment)
- The list can go on…
Ways to help your employees to achieve an effective work-life balance
When it comes to an effective work-life balance, many organisations start and stop with flexible working hours and flexible working locations, but there are several other options employers can consider if they want to attract the best talent:
- Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) – A ROWE enables your employees to be the boss of their own work, they are accountable for their results rather than time in the office. They chose where and when they work but they must meet deadlines and quality standards, in return they can take as much time off as they want when they need it.
- Offer more time off – In addition to paid holidays, you can also offer your employees paid personal days. These can be formal arrangements such as giving people days on their birthday or when moving house, or an informal arrangement such as time off to deal with personal or family matters without losing pay.
- Set boundaries for technology – Technology is great for facilitating flexible working but it has its downsides, the most common of which is feeling like you’re contactable by work 24/7/365. Set policies and precedents that enable employees to switch off their smartphones and laptops and not worry about needing to answer work-related emails and calls until the next working day.
- Provide care options – It’s not uncommon for employers to offer onsite childcare facilities, after all, it lowers stress among workers and creates friendships. But it doesn’t need to be just for children. Employees may have dogs that need looking after or older relatives that need some company during the day.
- Organise employee and family events – Planning events outside of normal working hours and working location offers an opportunity for your employees to bring together their work and private lives. It’s a way of saying thank you to your employees’ family for their support and they can also build stronger, more cohesive teams.
These are just a few ideas to help your employees achieve an effective work-life balance and lead to happier, healthier and more productive employees – which can only be good news for your business.