What is meant by a work-life balance?
The term “Work-life balance” is frequently used to describe a trade-off between work and life responsibilities and or goals. You balance the amount time spent on work-related tasks versus time spent with family, friends, and personal interests.
Employees, as well as employers who lack a work-life balance are more susceptible to burning-out, experiencing mental illness, and a lack of clear boundaries. Further, there are many ways employers can contribute to helping employees prioritize a work-life balance which inevitably increases employee efficiency, productivity and level of happiness and satisfaction at work.
With the recent legislation passed, Bill 27 Workers for Workers Act, 2021 it will assist employees disconnect from work, and allow employers to better understand workers boundaries and responsibilities outside of work. It helps sets expectations for employees working from home, when to disconnect, and ensuring email responses/calls can wait until work hours.
Below, we at Sultan Lawyers describe five ways employers can encourage a work-life balanced environment to improve the overall function of their company.
5 ways employers can provide a work-life balanced environment
- Offer Flexible and Remote Work Opportunities
- Host Consistent Workload Meetings
- Increase Support for Working Parents
- Focus on Productivity Rather Than Micro-Managing
- Encourage Breaks
1. Offer flexible and remote work opportunities
- By giving employees the option to work remote, you are allowing them to choose what style method of work works best for their life and lifestyle
- Technology these days allows for employers to provide options for employees, to work from home completely, go in the office fill time, or work on a hybrid schedule.
- This work style provides the opportunity for employees to work partially remote and partially in person. It offers the flexibility that workers desire and combine the best of office culture with a more pragmatic and cautious approach to reopening, considering the increase of community spread.
- Flexible work arrangements allow employees to better manage life outside of work, which inevitably can decrease stress, anxiety and hardship amongst employees
- Saves time and money for employees who have a far commute, and or need to drive into work
Workers value employers who empower them to manage their own time. Further, providing the option for employees to work-from-home and offering flexibility on hours may be advantageous for employers in terms of reducing the need for workspace and increasing productivity. Giving staff greater control over their work-life balance can also have a positive impact on their general health and wellbeing. Encouraging employees to be self-efficient will instill trust in the employee-employer relationship, as well as confidence knowing the employee will get their work done accordingly and in a timely fashion.
2. Consistent workload meetings
Weekly meetings can be beneficial to assist in monitoring the employee’s workload. Communication is key with employees, especially those working remote. Maintaining good contact with employees is efficient for completing, re-prioritizing tasks, and increasing efficiency. Acknowledging an employee’s capacity, can also provide the opportunity to apply necessary criticism and or praise and appreciated for an employee’s work performance. Further, it provides a time and place for an employee to communicate workplace concerns, if applicable. Weekly meetings therefore can assist in sustaining relationships between employers and colleagues.
3. Increase support for working parents
COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges in everyone’s life. Specifically, parents with children and additional responsibilities and commitments. Being flexible and understanding where it does not cause the employer undue hardship can be beneficial helping working parents navigate these strenuous times.
- Providing flexibility whether that be through alternative structured work hours, or allowing parents to care for their children is essential in creating a healthy work-life balance;
- Understanding how to support employees who are trying to support their family, or support in the event of family emergencies;
- Providing childcare and family benefits. If possible, benefits can alleviate some family expenses and provide assistance to working parents.
4. Focus on productivity rather than micro-managing
Employers who micro-manage their employees have a higher chance of creating a toxic work environment for a few reasons. Micro-managing employees in a workplace can decrease trust between the employer and the employee. It can also be an exhausting task for the employer, constantly worrying and picking out employee wrong doings, especially where it may not be necessary or appropriate. Micro-managing can be unproductive.
For example: Rather than counting the hours employees work, encourage managers to focus on the completion of a particular task.
Focusing on task efficiency rather instills confidence in the employee and provides liberty in how they complete their duties, reinforcing a reliable, trusting relationship.
5. Encourage breaks
- Providing employees with an appropriate lunch and or break in the workday is critical to allow employees to re-charge, and refresh;
- Ensuring you as an employer are practicing what you preach. Prioritizing breaks as an employer will assist in the overall functioning of a business. It is common as an employer to feel as though you cannot take a break, feeling you must be high functioning at all times. While this has the potential to benefit from a revenue standpoint, in terms of mental health and productivity it can more frequently be detrimental to the business;
- Learning to let go, and step back as an employer will have positive impacts on building a dedicated, motivated team.
How has the pandemic affected the way people work?
The COVID-19 pandemic has truly flipped the workforce upside down forcing some companies to function fully remote. Video, online learning, and remote work platforms have been seen as the backbone for many businesses.
Since the beginning of COVID-19, working from home has become a common phenomenon, and it seems employees are hanging onto the ability to work from home. There are many benefits to working in the workplace, however it is now quite standard for employers to provide the option to work from home if it is reasonable and makes sense considering the associated job duties.
A survey conducted in October 2021, by Angus Reid for Cisco Canada revealed approximately, 72 per cent of workplaces in Canada will provide employees the opportunity to work remote or participate in a hybrid model that would allow employees to work remote and go into the office when necessary.
With this kept in mind, employers should see if it is feasible to update their way of functioning with current times and available technology.
Generally, this means employers may consider and ensure their workplaces are adaptable to how employees work most productively. This may include increasing the use of technology to create a safe, collaborative, and flexible workplace for all.
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