More than two-fifths of UK employees feel they don’t have a good balance between their work and personal lives, according to research conducted by global management consultancy Hay Group. And worse, only half believe that their employer is sensitive to the need to balance home and work.
So what can companies do to ensure that their employees are satisfied, both in work and outside it?
FINDING THE BALANCE
We live in a digital world that is “always on”, where people don’t think twice about checking emails or completing work outside their office hours. Yet most people feel guilty about doing any non-work activity during the day. In this modern world, we need to move away from the rigidity of “9 to 5” hours and stop obsessing over being seen in the office.
For over a decade, businesses across the UK having been talking about the work-life balance. But this terminology is outdated. Today, people want more from life. Our lives are increasingly being defined by experiences, whether that’s as part of a career, a hobby or a personal relationship. As business leaders, we want to create a truly engaged workforce. And in order to do this, we need to adapt to this change of pace and cultivate a life blend among our employees.
Over the past couple of months at MediaCom, we have been introducing Project Blend, a talent management initiative which aims to help the company move away from traditional approaches that focus on the number of hours employees spend at their desk. Instead, this initiative measures success based on employees’ output, in an attempt to change traditional attitudes to workplace culture.
RETURNING TO WORK
Much has been said about the importance of making it easy for new parents to return to work after having a baby. As a parent myself, I know that juggling a family, a career and a social life can be tricky. And businesses can’t continue to blind themselves to the fact that everybody has different priorities in life, whether that’s singing in your local choir, being a carer, or even a professional sportsperson. Everybody should be given the opportunity to create a “life blend” which works for them.
Initiatives like Project Blend can help those with demanding goals and ambitions outside the workplace. Trace Markham, for example, is both a MediaCom planning manager and a high performing triathlete.
She started using Project Blend to develop a schedule which allowed her to succeed in her career without sacrificing her chances to qualify for the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2016.
HAPPINESS EQUALS RESULTS
An increase in employee fulfilment is exactly what businesses need to achieve. “Lower happiness is systematically associated with lower productivity,” claimed researchers from the University of Warwick, following an experiment from which they concluded that happier workers are 12 per cent more productive.
If a direct result of actively encouraging staff to be happy is that they can be completely engaged while at work, finding a workable solution is a win-win for companies, who can increase their output, and their staff – who are likely to stay loyal to an organisation sensitive to their needs.
I urge other business leaders to trust employees to manage their own work, as well as to deliver an excellent service for their clients. This shouldn’t involve asking them to compromise on other important aspects of their life. But we should be more flexible about when and where people work so that they can fulfil all their different responsibilities and aspirations in life, including their career development.