If you’ve tried to achieve the illusive work life balance, you’re in good company. Countless employees have attempted to find this equilibrium, allowing them to mix professional and personal responsibilities throughout their day. It’s not easy to achieve—even CEOs have referred to work life balance as a “myth”. Perhaps it is. Considering how many employees are working remotely, now may be the time to re-examine the concept of work life balance.
The work life balance concept has pivoted from balance to blend, a more integrated approach. Work life blend is favored by 81 percent of employees, according to a 2017 Met Life Study. By focusing on integrating personal and professional responsibilities throughout the day, an employee may feel more empowered to bring their whole self to work.
Here are three ways to help employees throughout your organization strive for an effective work life blend.
Getting to know your employees
A key step in empowering employees to develop a work life blend is getting to know them from a more personal standpoint. Once you’ve gone beyond the basics, like learning about their family, hobbies and how they prefer to be recognized, work towards creating a rapport where they feel comfortable sharing what’s happening in their lives.
Create a space, perhaps during one-on-one meetings, where managers have an opportunity to spark conversation about topics beyond work. This allows both managers and employees to open up, find common ground and also gain context for what may be happening in each other’s lives outside of work.
Providing flexibility when needed
While employees can achieve a certain degree of work life blend from a traditional 9-to-5 workday, flexible schedules may be mutually beneficial for employers and employees in achieving an effective work life blend. Such perks can help companies retain talent because employees have the flexibility to address work and personal responsibilities in a way that fits their schedule and life.
Employees with young children or employees with caregiving responsibilities (for parent, spouse, etc.) may be the most visible beneficiaries of flexible schedules, but all employees may be relieved by creating a work flexible work schedule that incorporates their needs. An employee experiencing health issues also benefits from working a modified schedule that can incorporate doctor’s appointments or treatments into their workday, when necessary.
Flexible work options can vary from adjusting a traditional work schedule to accommodate a family member’s doctor’s appointment, working remote 1-2 days a week or modifying a schedule to start earlier and end the day closer to when school is dismissed.
Create a work environment that embraces the blend
Employees might not always feel comfortable asking for help in achieving a work life blend or discussing issues they may be experiencing, like stress or burnout. But if your employees see that your organization is working towards embracing a work life blend as a cultural value, they may be more inclined to speak up.
Create opportunities for all employees within an organization to incorporate some amount of flexibility into their role or set boundaries when they need it. This could include allowing an entry-level employee to work from home 2 days a month or creating email guidelines that allow employees to disconnect from their inbox at night when they’ve finished their work. Encourage leadership and managers to actively work towards an effective work life blend, and be candid about any challenges in doing so, because it will demonstrate to employees that gaining flexibility will be a work in progress.
Striving towards a work life blend that will help your workforce thrive takes time and continual effort. But it’s worth aiming for as it will help bring out the best in your employees by allowing them to focus on what’s important to them both inside and outside of the office.