For several generations, work-life balance was never on the table. People were happy to secure a job and would often let themselves be run down – perhaps even exploited – by their employers for decades, favoring loyalty at the expense of personal health and family obligations. Today, staff who work in such a restrictive, inflexible environment have no reservations about kicking their employers to the curb, even if it means reduced pay. Restricting work-life balance through fear and demands won’t motivate your staff or increase productivity. In short, we need to quit using the stick and instead try the carrot.
While most companies now accommodate this shift in priorities, some are still entrenched in the idea that employees are like machines. But workers aren’t machines, and they’ll remind you accordingly if you treat them that way.
The concept that work-life balance motivates employees isn’t a surprising new trend. Workers have always wanted some flexibility; we simply didn’t acknowledge it until now. One thing that organizations should always remember is that their staff have lives outside the office. This is why giving employees adequate time off is an effective way to boost motivation. Workers don’t want to feel enslaved to the will of their superiors or be seen as nothing more than tools for productivity.
Great, so let’s say employers do get the message and really want to help make their staff’s lives easier. The question now is “how do they do it?” This, fellow managers, is the million dollar question. But if you get it right, you’ll save millions more.
By definition, “telecommuting” is the practice of working from a location outside the office – usually at home. Giving employees access to work assignments and software from their own computers allows them to continue being productive while recovering from a cold, long-term illness or coping with a family emergency. It’s a classic win-win scenario, and your employees will thank you for it.
Let’s face it, life is pretty inconsiderate when it comes to schedules. Children don’t politely wait until the weekend to become severely ill. Injuries can happen any time. Viruses are notorious for showing up unannounced. So why penalize people by draining their sick days if you can still have them be productive?
Children can be a blessing to new and experienced parents alike, but not all employers feel the same way. While the flexible scheduling mentioned above is a great solution, “family positive” work environments are even better. Nothing says “we care” like giving your employees the peace of mind that comes with on-site daycare.
Of course, building and staffing a daycare center is a huge financial and logistical undertaking, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t help. Daycare is expensive, so offering company discounts for this service outside the workplace will at least alleviate some of the strain and absenteeism.
Allow Employees to Say “No”
We’ve all had “that employee” who seems to be superhuman. He or she happily comes in and puts their best foot forward for upwards of 50 or 60 hours a week. But this is an exception, not the rule. If you strictly transfer that expectation to your entire staff, don’t be surprised if absenteeism and turnover explode like a ton of fireworks.
When you need someone to work extra hours, for instance, it’s important to make it a question and not an order. If the answer is “no,” don’t react with frustration. People need a break or have other obligations. Verbally convey that you completely understand and thank them anyway.
Sudden life changes can affect availability in the long-term, but this doesn’t mean your workers have to quit. For instance, new parents who go on childcare leave or workers looking to expand their skills with part-time degrees shouldn’t pay for it by leaving their jobs. Instead, it’s best to give them the opportunity to move to a part-time schedule.
By keeping a staff member partially on the payroll, it allows them to retain their job skills and knowledge, making the transition back to full-time completely seamless. You also maintain at least some level of productivity. It’s also an opportunity to fill the labor gap by hiring a temporary intern or cross-training someone who wants to learn new skills.
Flexible Work Arrangement
Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) are an excellent way to efficiently create an office that supports work-life balance. At Justlogin, we respect the benefits of an FWA and have our own one in place as an example.
Flexible start and end times are almost universally important, which is why it’s the backbone of our FWA plan. To that end, we have security measures in place to prevent the dreaded “time theft” that some unscrupulous employees might try to commit.
The JustClock system we created is virtually foolproof, since we don’t use conventional time punches through cards or logins. Instead, employees can enter a passcode into an iPad located in a convenient office location. This takes a picture of the employee in real-time, preventing people from “buddy punching” on others’ behalf.
Best of all, workers can do the same thing remotely via their iPhones or Android devices, allowing the system to support remote working (telecommuting) when necessary. Their GPS location can also be captured, so you know exactly where they are.
JustClock for your Business
Let’s just state the obvious right away – new systems are costly, no matter how beneficial they may be. To help, the Singapore government offers two types of grants to support work-life balance practices.
1. The Developmental Grant offers up to $20,000 in funding and another $20,000 in reimbursements for creating a new FWA system. The reimbursements can cover up to 80% of consultation costs and 50% for support structures, like on-site daycare.
2. The FWA Incentive provides as much as $120,000 based on the number of employees using the FWA.
Visit the “Work-Life Grant” section at the Ministry of Manpower to learn more.
Some people value their careers above all else. To those, we say “great, more power to you!” But most employees don’t have the ability to become workaholics, and those who try often pay a hefty price. Many others might not even realize they have a right to some freedom. That being said, let’s not be the business that exploits these individuals, but rather the one that values humanity over productivity. After all, if you focus on the former, the latter will fall into place.