The Role of Employers in Promoting Work-Life Balance

Employee happiness is not a choice for today’s employers but it is a need which may directly impact the organization’s topline and bottomline profitability. Employers who have realized the importance of work-life balance are more profitable and successful, as such organization’s tend to have employees who are more happy, creative, love to take challenges fearlessly and deliver results in a much better manner without any fear of being reprimanded for making mistakes or compulsion from any authority. In a way, it can be implied that organizations that pay attention to the work-life balance goals, have better performers and deliver positive ROI.

To start with, it is important to analyze the causes of burnout or employee unhappiness before selecting and implementing the work-life balance strategies. This burnout could be due to lack of motivation, emotional turmoil or depression and lack of interest. Research investigations reveal that burnout is directly proportional to the employee turnover ratio; higher the burnout, higher will be employee turnover.

Employee burnout can be tackled by the following measures as given below:

  1. Increasing employee control: Earlier, the employers used to enjoy all the authority and the employees were simply expected to act or work as per the decisions of their employers, which used to add to their frustration level and hence burnout.

    By providing them the authority and autonomy to deliver results within the stipulated timelines and resources, will help the employees to work better and increase their loyalty towards their organization.

  2. Employee Suggestion Programs: Employees may have some of the best ideas on work-life balance strategies which may go a long way in establishing the reputation of as organization as the best places to work. Lot of times, these ideas are either not being communicated to the right person in the right time, as a result of which vital employee suggestions are missed out.

    By strategically planning and implementing employee suggestion scheme, employee participation and involvement in the organizational decision making will enhance and quality of decisions along with the outcomes will improve. Few aspects which should be considered for successfully implementing employee suggestion programs:

    • Defining a simple process for giving suggestions, as complications will unnecessarily stifle creativity and negatively impact the quality of decisions.
    • Maintaining a positive approach and responding to their suggestions with their suggestions will be considered and worked upon.
    • Thanking each employee who take part in the suggestion scheme.
    • Rewarding or recognising those employees who come up with useful suggestions.
  3. Rewarding Exceptional Performance: Rewards reinforce positive behaviour and improve employee performance at work.

    Employees, who feel that they have been appreciated and recognized for their contributions, are likely to be more confident and committed towards their work. These rewards can be in the form of a monetary reward, promotions or a public appreciation of the hard work or may be in the form of a simple get together.

  4. Ensuring Consistency in Communication with the Employees: By keeping the employees informed will make them feel more valued and make them more accountable as well as improve their sense of responsibility or commitment towards their assigned jobs.
  5. Employee Assistance Programmes: These days employers hire EAP counsellors for helping the employees to fight out stress and maintaining their work-life balance. Employer’s sponsored Employee Assistance Programmes will make the employees feel that they are valued and also that their concerns are given importance and listened to by the professionally appointed counsellors. Such counsellors are trained to handle various stress-related crises which could be both personal and professional nature.

Besides the above factors, given below are the strategies by way of which Employee Work-life balance can be promoted:

  1. Allowing Flexi-Work schedules: Flexi work schedule should be planned in such as way so that the organizational productivity is not hampered and the employee happiness can be achieved. The employers should clearly spell out the policy framework for flexible work hours and communicate their expectations accordingly. The best examples of flexi work schedule could be telecommuting or four days work in a week.
  2. Paid Time Off: Paid time off will support the objectives of a work-life balance programme of an organization. Employees who take Paid Time off are neither probed nor questioned on the reasons for their absence or how their time was spent.
  3. Modelling the Work-Life Balance Practices: The actions and the behaviours of the managers or the senior leaders are watched and heard by the employees. By responding to e-mails even during the Paid Time Off, employers set forth precedence before their employees on their work-life preferences, which in turn will affect their personal preferences for balancing their work and life fronts.
  4. Setting Clear Expectations that a Time Off or a Break from work should be treated as a Time Off: Setting clear expectations that it is okay to break free from the day to day monotony or pressures of work while being on leave. It is perfectly fine, if the official mobile phones are switched off or mails are not being responded during this period.
  5. Allowing the Employees to Avail Unpaid Leave for meeting the Contingent Situation Demands: Several employers allow their employees to avail unpaid leaves under the following circumstances:

    • Nursing a parent who is seriously ill or bed ridden since a very long time and require personal care as well as attention.
    • Premature birth of the baby who is expected to be in the hospital for an extended period of time.
    • Extending the period of maternity leave by some more weeks.
    • Assisting the employees to explore the possible options of resettling in a different location or household.

Work balance means a lot to the millennial employees who are crammed with the day to day challenges at work, complex responsibilities and bugged by the pressure of responding promptly to the emails or different forms of electronic communication. Organizational policies, rules and well planned initiatives can help an employee in being most productive and happy in the workplace scenario.

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Workplace Efficiency