The Article is contributed By Marut Bharadwaj, Country Head, Potential Project
As a general rule, we strive to maintain a certain degree of balance in our lives. Workplaces, too, are no exception. But the world is changing, people are more involved, and obtaining the ideal work-life balance feels like a pipe dream.
- Prioritise output over hours worked
- Encourage taking breaks
- Re-evaluate workloads from time to time
- Acknowledge the unique needs of every employee
- Leading Mindfully
The glaring need of work-life balance
According to LinkedIn's "Future of Employment" Study 2021 of 1,108 people aged 16 to 68, a third of Indian professionals are stressed and overworked as a result of working remotely. This has shifted focus to individual well-being and pushed many professionals to strive to achieve the correct balance of life and career. In fact, one in every two Indian employees, or 52 percent to be precise, now feels that work-life balance is just as essential as their pay, according to the same Linkedin study.
As employees rearrange their priorities and become more and more willing to explore their options regardless of the risk, one result of this introspection has been "The Great Resignation".
In light of the changing dynamics of employees’ professional and personal priorities and the impact they have on outcomes, organisations need to reconsider their top-to-bottom work patterns, as well as their culture and values, and themselves instigate a change in the nature of the workplace.
Why is work-life balance so difficult to attain?
A work-life balance is becoming increasingly difficult as technology advances. Everyone is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and the fear of losing opportunities, acknowledgements, and in many cases, even the job itself, pushes employees to work long hours.
We tend to conceive of work-life balance as a trade-off between the amount of time we spend at work and the amount of time we spend on non-work pursuits. In a perfect world, we would be able to nourish ourselves as individuals after work, whether it was through spending time with friends, family, or participating in a hobby, as well as climb our professional peak within the limits of out predetermined work hours.
It's not difficult to convey the concept of "balance," but what does it truly entail? When the walls between work and home become thinner than paper, how do you know what works? Taking care of oneself begins to seem like an unnecessary extravagance when one’s very livelihood is at stake. But it should not. A lack of work-life balance not only harms your mental health, but it also hurts your company's bottom line and job satisfaction.
Maintaining a work-life balance is not an illusion
As employees increasingly look for a better work-life balance and a higher sense of fulfilment, leaders must take on the responsibility of helping their employees find what they need. For instance, leaders must look into offering their employees more flexible benefits and time to focus on their mental health.
While employers alone cannot guarantee a perfect work-life balance for their employees, there are several ways in which they can assist individuals in finding and maintaining a balance that works best for them:
Prioritise output over hours worked
Leaders should focus their energies and attention on the end result rather than the hours worked by each employee, and urge management to do the same. Some days, employees may have to work long hours to finish a task, but this should be countered by the days when they do not have to work an eight-hour day.
Focusing on outcome-based metrics once teams and people have a clear understanding of their responsibilities in terms of achieving outcomes will result in higher productivity with better performance. Netflix, for example, has no restrictions on paid time off or on the amount of "face time" that employees must spend in the office. It assesses productivity by outcomes, not inputs, and is flourishing on that principle.
Encourage taking breaks
Workplace breaks are necessary for keeping healthy, happy, creative, and focused. Many employees, however, do not take breaks during the day, and others even skip meals. It is enticing to cram as much work into a short period of time as possible if you are able to get out of the office early, after all.
However, the brain needs rest on a regular basis. Employee performance declines when employees keep at a task for an extended period of time. In one study, the Draugiem Group, a Latvian conglomerate, observed that the most productive employees took the most breaks when they measured their time and productivity. High achievers took an average of 17 minutes off for every 52 minutes they worked.
So, employers should encourage employees to take regular breaks, go for a stroll, or even work in a different section of the workplace to stay fresh and stress-free.
Re-evaluate workloads from time to time
While allocating tasks, leaders may end up assuming an unrealistic deadline for tasks that can take a single person even a whole day to do.
It is possible to better divide work among your team through the use of workload management, which not only reduces burnout among your staff but also keeps them from being overwhelmed in the first place.
Leaders who communicate with their staff on a regular basis will be aware of who is overworked and stressed, as well as who has spare capacity. Re-evaluating each individual worker’s workload, they can assign tasks mindfully to ensure that everyone has a manageable amount of work to do.
Acknowledge the unique needs of every employee
An improved work-life balance is something that many of your workers may be striving toward. While some may be content with the amount of time they devote to their jobs within the work hours, others may be willing to work more to finish the task at hand in one go. They may not mind working long hours if it means they can relax when they get home.
The best organizations recognise that each employee is unique, and develop work environments that can be tailored to each individual. There is no such thing as a "one-size-fits-all" solution in business, even in the context of employees. An individual, customisable strategy is, therefore, a leader’s best bet.
Mindfulness makes it difficult to disregard any imbalance. Mindfulness practises like meditation and breath awareness helps employees become more aware of their feelings and physical experiences. When they pay attention to their feelings, employees can learn to recognise when they might be denying themselves something necessary in order to succeed at work.
For leaders, this awareness is a treasure chest for leading employees towards a self-led work-life balance that is as likely to benefit the organization as their own selves. After all, change only changes when it is driven from within. And attaining a work-life balance is a cycle whose wheels really lie in the employees’ hands.