Posted on: February 2019 Lara Edgcombe
For many employers and HR leaders, developing work-life strategies that bring real benefits to both the business and to their staff is challenging. Yet with greater priority being placed upon work-life by employees, employees must adopt new, more fluid ways of working to attract and retain talent.
What is work-life balance and how do we measure it?
As the name suggests, work-life balance is simply the division of one’s time between working, and family or leisure activities. The ‘right’ proportion of the two is much harder to quantify, and for most people, a healthy balance between the two can be incredibly hard to achieve.
Opportunities in life and work are arguably greater than ever before, with technological advancements along with cheaper and more efficient travel just two of the contributing factors. But with hectic social schedules long commutes for many and increasingly demanding work pressures, just how easy is it to have it all?
Work-life balance makes employees happier and healthier
A good work-life balance is imperative for a healthy working environment and happy, motivated employees. Yet according to a survey by the Mental Health Foundation, work is overtaking life for more than 40% of employees. As we continue to see a greater number of professionals working longer than their contracted hours, so too are we seeing an increase in associated mental health issues such as stress and depression; issues that are costly to both employee and employer.
And, rather than alleviating the issue of long working hours, our personal choices such as the amount of technology we routinely use may be aggravating the situation. The excessive use of technology, and our reliance upon for all aspects of daily life, has created a working world in which employees are online round the clock, resulting in many being contacted about work issues during their personal time and an expectation that they will respond to work messages even when they’re not working.
Interestingly, work-life balance is fast becoming an issue of greater importance to women than men. More women than men report being unhappy (42% and 29% respectively) which may be due to competing responsibilities at home and the workplace, and the pressure to ‘juggle’. And so, employers may look to primarily engage their female staff to collaboratively explore work-life solutions that benefit all. For employers that continue to shy away from the necessity of work-life policy, the financial ramifications could be significant.
Work absence costs the UK economy billions each year
Research from the Centre for Mental Health revealed that absence from work for employees suffering from mental health issues is costing the UK economy £26 billion per annum. The UK is not alone: the Harvard Business Review also released figures that show the problems associated with a poor work-life balance are costing between $125 and $190 billion in healthcare spending each year in the US. This, of course, means that for organisations that operate internationally – of which there are many within the recruitment industry – the financial penalty for not proactively managing the need for work-life balance fast becomes costly and counterintuitive.
Recruitment industry: long working hours can make work-life balance challenging
The recruitment industry has, over the years, developed a quiet notoriety for long working hours, largely due to the commission-based incentives. Because of this, recruitment remains an industry that must reimagine the ways in which it can deliver an effective work-life balance to its employees.
Responsibility for identifying work-life initiatives that suit the industry and the professionals working within it must fall to both employer and employee. For an employee, it is important to voice suggestions and contribute to policy development. Employees should also take steps to manage their own work-life balance by setting boundaries and placing greater focus on ‘clocking off’ when the workday ends.
Management within recruitment should make efforts to become more aware of the pressures experienced by their staff and aim to facilitate the transition towards greater flexibility and work-life innovation.
Unlike the baby boomers before them, the vast majority of millennials (81%) feel they should set their own working patterns and have the option to work from home on occasion. It may be worth taking note, as 80% of baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1960) are now, later in their careers, reporting moderate to high-stress levels.
Employee-employer collaboration could be key to success
When an organisation comes together to rethink the ways in which they work and redefine what is acceptable as a ‘normal’ way of working, the workplace can become a healthier, happier place to be and both employers and employees can enjoy the benefits. A better work-life balance will inevitably lead to better retention, greater longevity within the industry and, perhaps most importantly, better wellbeing for everyone working within it.
To find out more about how to balance your work-life, contact us today.
Phaidon International is the parent company of five leading specialist recruitment agencies. For more than 15 years, we have given clients and candidates the peace of mind that the recruitment process is in expert hands. Out continual investment in best-in-class technologies and consultant training enables us to recruit with speed, precision and accuracy. Today, we provide contingency, retained search and project-based contract recruitment across 11 offices in 6 countries. Contact us today to learn more about the company and the opportunities we offer.