What does it mean to have a good work-life balance? Generally, it means that employees are able to manage the needs of both their personal and professional lives in a satisfying and successful manner. In fact, “balance” might not be the ideal word; some experts argue that “integration” better fits the concept. No matter which term or approach you prefer, the end goal remains the same.
Typically, we discuss work-life balance in terms of hobbies or leisure but this is not the case for most American employees. Companies who emphasize work-life understand that their employees have lives outside of the office. Working parents need to care for their children and want to spend quality time with their families. As Baby Boomers age, more and more Gen-X and Millennials are becoming caregivers and members of the “sandwich generation”. Individuals with chronic medical conditions worry about juggling medical appointments with their full-time jobs, to say nothing of dealing with effects of their health issues. Work-life balance sounds like a perk, but for most Americans it is a necessity.
Now that you understand why employees need it, you might be wondering how work-life balance benefits employers. Here are just a few reasons employers should prioritize work-life balance for staff members.
1. Increased Productivity and Engagement
To oversimplify, happy employees are productive employees. Employees are less likely to be preoccupied with personal issues or responsibilities. Parents will be able to focus on work because they knows that they will be able to attend childhood milestones like games and recitals. Parents who don’t have to worry about rescheduling appointments or arranging transportation for their kids won’t be preoccupied and anxious. As productivity increases, so will employee engagement.
2. Attractive to Recruits
Work-life balance is a tempting benefit for any job. Millennials and Gen Z both prize work-life balance in potential employers (indeed, most of them expect employers to understand the need for work-life balance). By illustrating a commitment to work-life balance, you are telling prospective recruits that you value them as workers and as people. This emphasis will also encourage people who might otherwise not apply: job seekers will factor in personal responsibilities when choosing whether or not to apply to a position.
3. Higher Staff Retention Rates
Establishing a good work-life balance means that your employees will not be so torn between personal and professional responsibilities. Some employees must literally choose between their full-time jobs or taking care of a loved one who needs full-time care. Employees who are dealing with their own long-term medical issues encounter similar conundrums. When work-life balance is a priority for a company, staff members do not feel compelled to sacrifice either their personal or professional obligations. Many employees might see a company’s stance on work-life balance as a benefit they would not find elsewhere.
4. Lower Absenteeism and Presenteeism
Flexibility in schedule allows employees to attend to personal responsibilities. For example, the ability to work from home will allow employees to be productive during unexpected personal events, such as school closures. They might not be physically present, but they can still be productive. Presenteeism is the opposite problem. Investopedia defines presenteeism as “the problem of employees who are not fully functioning in the workplace because of an illness, injury[,] or other condition.” Essentially, presenteeism is when an employee is physically present, but mentally absent. When employees can take advantage of their company’s flexibility, presenteeism is rarely a problem because workers less likely to be preoccupied with other concerns.
5. Improves Brand Image
You want your company to be known as an organization that cares about its employees by giving them the flexibility they need. By relating to your employees on a human level, you humanize your brand. This is a gold mine for positive press coverage. Remember that many consumers of today are swayed by a company’s internal practices. Treating your employees well can generate a lot of goodwill from the public.
Gone are the days of living to work. Pulling overtime every week might show dedication, but it quickly leads to burnout for even the most dedicated employees. Companies that adapt to the needs and expectations of modern employees are the companies that will carve out a place in the work world of the future . In our next blog, we’ll discuss actionable tips for improving work-life balance in your company.