Business mentor, professional speaker and angel investor Mark Lyttleton has a keen appreciation of the need for entrepreneurs to work smarter to protect their mental health and wellbeing. This article will look at why it is so important for employees to strike a healthy work-life balance, exploring the benefits from both the staff and employer’s perspective.
A healthy work-life balance hinges on an individual’s ability to carve out appropriate time for both their personal and professional lives. In recent years, increasing emphasis has been placed on work-life balance as start-ups and small businesses strive to attract and retain young talent. It often centres around a business’s ability to grow the company and achieve maximum productivity without impinging upon the personal lives of its employees.
Although employers are not solely responsible for an employee’s work-life balance, they do have a responsibility, if not an obligation, to help workers achieve and maintain a balance that works for them.
Employers seeking to achieve this have several routes open to them. In a recent survey involving 3,500 employees, flexible and remote working practices proved extremely popular with employees, with 81% of participants placing value and importance on flexible working – reporting that they wanted to be entrusted to manage for themselves how, when and where they worked.
Another effective strategy requires a change of mindset from management, prioritising productivity rather than working hours and offsetting the days when employees need to put in long hours by reducing the length of working days when this level of time in the office is not required. Saloni Doshi is the CEO of EcoEnclose, a sustainable packing company. As she indicates, high productivity does not necessarily mean working eight-hour days.
Irrespective of role or industry, it is important for employers to encourage all employees to take breaks, taking a walk or at the very least performing tasks in a different part of the building. Many forward-thinking organisations provide employees with recreational areas, encouraging workers to take a break and spend some time away from their desk.
Managers need to teach by example, maintaining and demonstrating a healthy work-life balance by also taking breaks, leaving the office on time, and avoiding bothering workers outside of office hours or trying to hold them to unworkable timescales.
Business leaders need to get to know the culture of their organisation, communicating with employees at all levels and collecting valuable feedback through surveys, interviews and focus groups.
It is vital for employers to support families. Offering enhanced maternity care packages with higher pay than the bare minimum for mothers on leave is an impactful method of closing the gender gap in any organisation, making the business more attractive to female employees. In addition, childcare vouchers or even a creche at work could significantly lighten the load and reduce stress for workers.
From an employee’s perspective, achieving a healthy work-life balance has numerous benefits, supporting personal growth, better time management and improved focus. In addition, striking the right balance also makes employees feel more valued, reducing stress while enhancing their engagement, personal health and wellbeing.
From the employer’s point of view there are multiple benefits too, including increased morale and productivity, better staff retention, enhanced brand reputation, improved access to talented candidates and reduced absenteeism.