It’s inevitable: the boundaries of work and life often blur, and will only continue to do so as technology becomes more a part of our daily lives.
It used to be that employers dictated one-size-fits-all policies for workplace and culture. But in today’s world of work, employees are pushing employers to think above and beyond, and driving cultural transformation.
The definition of the traditional work day has changed – and organizations are addressing this in a number of ways, including providing flexible work options, supporting different work styles, and promoting work-life balance policies.
For some, balancing work and life with clear boundaries is a successful strategy, according to Google’s recent research.
But more organizations are introducing the idea of work-life blending. That is, employees being able to address life matters while at work and vice versa.
At Ceridian, we believe that employees should be the best versions of themselves both at work and at home, and that belief is what drives our approach to blending. People blend differently. Generational differences, for example, may dictate how work and life blend, because priorities shift as people move into different stages of their lives. The key is to create a culture that supports employees to be able to spend time with their families, and meet the needs of the business.
Here are some strategies for employers to support work-life blending:
Lead with transparency and commitment
Make no mistake: blending work and life together does not mean that employees always end up working, which is easy to do in our “always on” culture. But setting those boundaries starts with leadership. Make it clear that you value employees’ time outside of the office, and ensure they respect each other’s blending methods.
Leadership also needs to lead by example when they take time off, and truly step away from work. Alternatively, if, as a leader, you do in fact work during your time off, it’s important to communicate employees that you don’t expect the same from them.
Be transparent about who you are as a leader, understand who your employees are, and clearly communicate expectations. Hold your employees accountable to meeting the goals and expectations of the business, and trust them with latitude and self-management to make that happen.
Support flexible work experiences
It’s time for organizations to re-examine their policies regarding time away from work. The degree to which flexibility is an option depends on an organization’s leadership and culture. Some examples include opportunities to work remotely, work during an extended vacation, or take flexible work hours.
Some leaders may have concerns about implementing flexible work experiences because they feel it removes organizational structure. Introducing workplace flexibility does require an incredible amount of change management, and a partnership between HR professionals and leadership teams on the change strategy.
It also requires implementing different policies to support new working structures, which is particularly beneficial for an increasingly global workforce. For example, setting up regular touchpoints between managers and employees or integrating technology for meetings (using video chat, for example). At Ceridian, we support an environment of ongoing feedback, so that employees and managers communicate regularly instead of simply during an annual performance review.
Demonstrate a commitment to work-life blending
What are employees passionate about, and what is important in their lives? Whether it’s attending their kids’ school concerts, travelling to exotic destinations or getting involved in community events, it’s important for managers to understand who their employees are to support them.
Another way to support blending is to create communities at work that encourage employees in their personal achievements and boost engagement. Ceridian does this in several ways. One example is our Helping Hands Volunteer Portal, which helps employees find and share volunteer opportunities within their communities, as well as track their volunteer time.
Another is Fun@Work, a program which is about exactly that – having fun at work. Each of our offices has Fun@Work teams that coordinate events and team-building activities, from games and paint nights to Tough Mudder to social outings. It’s so important to create a culture in which people feel a sense of community and belonging; with the amount of time we spend working, our colleagues become our families, too.
Changing workforce demographics have incited a critical shift in employee workplace expectations – and employers need to be prepared and respond accordingly with an enhanced employee experience. People want to work for companies that align with their values and support them in both their personal and professional pursuits. As noted in Harvard Business Review about Millennials, a generation often offered up as an example of shifting employee expectations, “Millennials are consumers of the workplace. They shop around for the jobs that best align with their needs and life goals.” That enhanced experience fundamentally leads to greater employee loyalty and engagement.