Balancing Work & Life: Culture is the Key

Flexible working is here to stay. More and more people are evaluating the work vs life implications when moving roles, and evaluating if a company’s culture is likely to allow them to deliver promises of balance. The need for a decent quality of life is swiftly overtaking the desire for higher wages. After all, if you can’t enjoy your money, then what’s the point?

So how do you successfully offer your teams a role which gives them the reassurance that their work / life balance will be prioritised at all costs? Here are some key points to address:

Who will be responsible for maintaining the balance?

When it comes to maintaining a steady balance between work life and home life, there is often one question that springs to mind when considering who takes responsibility: does the onus lie with the employee or employer? The answer is both. It is up to the employer to create a culture of trust and transparency, with open channels of communication. It is up to both parties to flag issues where promises of expectation and the reality of delivery are compromised.

Don’t be afraid to be open about your requirements.

Employees: It can be hard to open up to your boss about personal issues, but honesty is essential when it comes to creating a good balance and not feeling resentful. Whether there is a specific issue at home that requires more attention, or if you just feel overworked, don’t be afraid to go to your employer and explain your situation. Communication is the first step to getting that equilibrium right.

Employers: Listen to employees and take their needs on board. Your workforce is not made up of robots – they have needs and personal lives that need attention. Understand this and give them the flexibility they need, and they will be more likely to work harder for you when you need it as a result, meaning the two sides balance out in the long run.

Learn how to distinguish what does and doesn’t matter.

Employees: Everyone is guilty of doing this at some point in their life – whether at work or at home. Placing an unreasonable amount of pressure to do or perform a certain task that, in reality, isn’t really worth fussing over, is an easy trap to fall into. Try not to get too caught up in little tasks at work that aren’t really that important, but similarly try not to bring little niggles from home into the office unnecessarily.

Employers: Don’t harass workers for tasks or pieces of work that aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. If an employee hasn’t completed a minor piece of admin work because they have stresses at home – let it slide. Encourage them to deal with that issue before anything else. Also try to determine what specific areas of life are important to each employee; this could be family, friends, a pet or a hobby.

Be flexible on both sides.

Employees: Flexibility is great and is one of the great perks of the move to hybrid and remote working. You might find that you do your best work at 6am or at 11pm, and being afforded the trust to deliver your work at a time of day which suits your life isn’t unreasonable – as long as you are meeting deadlines. Be mindful of other people’s time though and understand that the proposed time for some meetings might not always be your first choice but suits the majority.

Employers: Be as flexible as you can when it comes to working hours and working away from the office. In the majority of cases, being generous and offering flexibility will mean that employees want to work harder for you and very few will blatantly take advantage. Remote working also opens up more channels of communication, linking back to the need for openness.

Finally – something for both employees and employers to remember – everyone wants more ‘life’ and less ‘work’, so try really hard to create a happy workplace family so that work feels less like what it is – time away from friends, family and fun pastimes.

There is a wealth of helpful practical information around implementing flexible working available from CIPD, who have been championing flexible working practices for a long time.

We believe that organisations need to take an honest look at their company culture and their capability for change of this kind before rushing to implement new policies. If we can help your organisation to evolve to a more flexible working environment we would love to be part of your journey. Contact TiggyR@NineFeetTall.com

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