We are living in times that are exemplified by topnotch connectivity because of technologies available to everyone, giving birth to a new culture that has dramatically changed the equation between work and personal life. The line between work and personal life has blurred dramatically, which allows emotions to flow fluidly between the two and causes and removes any chances of discordance between them.
Extending oneself to think, act and perform business during non-work hours or when one is on a holiday is common at present. Business leaders are cognizant of this encroachment and have taken an integrated approach towards employees’ work and life away from work.
Work life integration is often considered to be a benchmark to gauge how employee-friendly an organization is, and employers are rewriting the engagement rulebook to measure up with the best practices in the industry.
However, the sudden disruption caused by the pandemic has underpinned it and our new circumstances are acting as a catalyst for further development of work life integration. In short, organizations are earning brownie points for championing this cause effectively especially in the current crisis.
Work life integration trends by Amara
Data received by Amara tells us that lack of work life integration is commonly the reason for employees’ disengagement, apparently more than other factors such as L&D, culture, R&R, etc.
Amara has chatted with 70,000+ employees and more than 15 percent of employees have been unhappy with their organization’s approach to work life integration.
Interestingly, insights by Amara also pinpoint that women workers are more distressed with work life integration strategies. Thus, it is safe to say that men and women expect different things from employers with respect to work life integration.
Not only this, but today’s workforce also requires a multi-dimensional and flexible methodology to deal with this subject since employees’ expectations vary according to their career phase, culture, background and generational identities.
Listed here are tactical strategies based on best practices capable of enhancing work life integration
Involve employees in designing the practice
Primarily, employers must attune to employees’ wants and for that, they have to reach out to all of them periodically. The sampling approach that is strategizing the practice on the feelings of a few selected employees will not yield great results. Addedly, the traditional annual survey fails to capture the true emotions of employees and lacks consistency. The solution is to gather information at regular intervals by running ad-hoc campaigns focused on collecting employees’ insights on issues pertaining to life and work.
No hard and fast work hours
While the progressive companies are already reaping benefits of flexible work hours, the not so progressive ones are now rising to get into their shoes by not enforcing a 7-8 hour workday. Apparently, these companies are a testimony to the world that the outcome is not contingent on hours spent at work. To that end, many countries have taken a lead implementing a 4-day workweek. By cutting off the marriage between productivity and hours, employees have displayed been able to achieve more in less time and in addition, use their free time for self-development.
Transparent and trustful culture
The point is that the workplace culture should be based on trust akin to the one between a safety belt and a driver. Employers who are able to win employees’ trust by nurturing a transparent culture at the workplace are making a solid leap in integrating work and life away from work successfully. The crux of a trusting culture lies in the relationship between the manager and the team. While every individual is responsible for her/his performance and self-development, managers provide strong and constant support to them.
Communicate the organization’s policies in this matter
With the business environment constantly changing there is an impetus to revise people’s policies and practices aligning them to the current scenario and employees’ preferences. Along with that, HR and leaders must document and communicate the same to employees so that they are cognizant of the support available to them at all times. However, in the case of clogged communication lines, the workers at the tail end lose out from reaping the benefits of programs initiated by the leaders causing dissatisfaction and disengagement.
Paying attention to environmental issues
The steps that an organization takes to protect the environment by implementing sustainability in handling day-to-day affairs of the business have a long-lasting effect on the emotions of the employees. For instance, taking appropriate measures to save power, fuel, electricity, paper and other non-renewable resources. Addedly, being conscious of materials consumed and its impact on the environment becomes a cause of engagement of existing employees and also helps to soar the brand value.
Futuristically designed workplaces
The workplace ergonomics have changed to accommodate more open spaces, brightly lit rooms, lounge areas and shared office spaces. The concept of having a fixed desk is history with more and more people working remotely, desk per employee has given way to sharing personal space with others. Not only that, but the workplaces are also designed to inspire creativity and innovation with thinking stations, meditative gardens and game rooms.
Prioritizing physical and mental health
The issue of the day is that workers feel mentally and physically overwhelmed on account of hours spent at their desks leading to total exhaustion. Now to encourage employees to take frequent breaks and recharge themselves, employers are extending a bouquet of offerings. For instance, a work-out room, a quiet space for practicing meditation and mindfulness, and, light reading material to relax and destress. Along with that, wellness programs supporting employees’ mental and physical health include a chief health officer (CHO) on the premises. This CHO organizes health screenings, educates employees on personal care, prevention of diseases, and health plans among other such initiatives.
Stewart D. Friedman is the author of the book, Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life. His mainstream idea is that every individual requires skills that enable better living in all four domains of life: at work, at home, in the community, and in the private self (mind, body, and spirit).
Stewart D. Friedman says, “The really good news is that when you give people the tools and the support to pursue what I call “four-way wins” – that is, improved performance in all parts of life – they are actually much likely to achieve these wins and, through the process, develop further their leadership skills.”
As a result, the learnings in personal life help at work and vice versa. The fact is that work-life integration has helped employers offer a more targeted strategy to help workers not only strike a balance between the two but also give their 100%, be it at work or when not at work.