There are many benefits employers can gain when they make blending work and life a priority. Unfortunately, this is something so many business leaders are still lagging in.
In a recent Ceridian survey, nearly 40 percent of HCM professionals said they do not make blending work and life a priority for their employees. By failing to understand the importance of blending a person’s work life with their home life, they are missing out on the opportunity to improve the company’s bottom line. But more importantly, they are also negatively impacting their engagement and retention. Especially of top performers who have come to expect this as a core part of organizational culture. The good news is that there are some simple strategies HCM professionals can use to ensure it becomes a greater focus.
What is work-life blending?
The first step is redefining the meaning of the traditional concept of work/life balance. In the world of business and people, “work-life balance” is a buzzword with nuanced meaning and is no longer relative in how people work today.
Here’s what it means to me:
With more employees working virtually and our digital communications keeping us connected at all times, the line between our personal and professional life is blurring. Our rapid technological advancements are creating the expectation of always being “on.” Perhaps you have a portion of your workforce that doesn’t ever come into the office, or staff who work from home the majority of the time. In these cases, home life and work life are rooted in the same environment, further complicating the ability to distinguish between the two. This is why I choose to look at it as a work-life blend, instead of a balance.
We need to stop looking at the two as individual, competing concepts. As these areas continue to merge together, we instead need to adjust our workforce management methods appropriately.
Walk the talk
As a leader, saying work-life balance is a priority won’t mean much if your actions are counterintuitive. For example, if you send an email to a team member late at night, they will feel obligated to respond. Do you want to send the message to your people that the time they spend outside of work isn’t valuable? Definitely not. So think before you send that email. Work-life blend goes for you too! If your staff members don’t see you maintaining a healthy work-life, they are going to assume they shouldn’t be either. Making it clear you have a life outside the office – one you regularly engage with – can be helpful in showing staff it is okay for them to do the same.
Please, get rid of outdated vacation policies with lengthy accrual periods. This isn’t realistic, effective, or convenient for today’s modern workforce. Life happens – and if something comes up unexpectedly, requiring someone to take time off or observe a flexible working arrangement, it should be a simple experience for the individual and for the leader. Consider creating new programs that advance the empowerment of the leaders and increase flexibility for people. And get rid of outdated, archaic policies that require approvals, accruals, and constraints.
If your policies and programs still don’t make it obvious, make sure it is clearly communicated to your people that you want them to take time off for personal activities. Whether it is to care for aging or ill family members and friends or see their kids’ theater events and soccer games, your people need to know you value their work-life blend as much as they do, and you will support them however you can.
At the end of the day, work-life balance or rather blend comes down to people. You need to create empowered leaders who comfortably exercise control over their personal and professional lives, then allow them to make decisions that make work-life better for everyone.
In part two of this blog series, we’ll go over 4 things that companies can gain when they make work-life blending a priority.