In pursuit of work and life balance: Is the real issue work life flexibility?
We talk a lot about work life balance nowadays. Whether it’s because we’re under so much more pressure in every aspect of life or we’re simply better informed about personal health than ever before, keeping ourselves on an even keel has become increasingly important.
While many of us think about work life balance, however, what we may actually be referring to is work life flexibility and how much we have.
What is work life flexibility?
According to organisations like ACAS, workers feel a lot more engaged when they can balance their work lives better with their normal, personal lives. A prime example of promoting this would be a business allowing flexitime, letting employees, especially those with children, fit their work schedule around family life.
More and more employees are now working extra jobs to make ends meet. Delivering the flexibility they need can be a real asset that enables them to balance their lives better. For employers this will mean understanding they are not the individuals only source of income and finding ways to accommodate these circumstances.
Flexibility itself can work in different ways:
- You might want an employee to work 40 hours a week but allow them to compress that into fewer days.
- You could introduce part and full-time positions or job shares to allow employees with common interests the flexibility they need.
- You may want to allow your employees to be able to work at home – something that has becoming increasingly doable with improvements in cloud technology and can save money on office space.
- Allowing employees to reduce or change their hours at specific times, for example, during school holidays, is another option.
Benefits of work life balance/work life flexibility
On the surface, work life flexibility seems to benefit the employee more than the employer but this isn’t strictly true. Being responsive to the needs of employees and facilitating a better work life balance through greater flexibility can be advantageous in a number of ways:
- Evidence tends to suggest that employees who are offered flexible working are less likely to feel stressed and can often be more productive.
- It allows employees to meet family needs and other obligations more easily and, particularly when it comes to home working, reduce costs and time spent on travel to and from work.
- It gives people a sense of greater control over all aspects of their lives. For some employers, it can also mean that staff are working at a time when they are likely to achieve the most.
- It can help partners who work in certain sectors such as health to plan their time together, especially if they operate different hours through shift work.
- For businesses it helps promote better employee morale as well as loyalty and has been shown to reduce instances of sickness and absence in many industries.
- It allows your business to operate outside of normal hours because you have staff who are willing to work at different times.
- It can also raise your profile as a good company to work for because you provide the kind of flexibility people are looking for. That could also mean you find it easier to attract top talent to your business.
Of course, there are logistic issues surrounding work life flexibility not least for the employer who has to ensure that staffing meets the needs of the business. That may require a little give and take on both sides but there are certainly opportunities for most businesses to engage better.
Flexible working has certainly become something that is expected nowadays and is used by many managers who understand the benefits of catering to their workforce needs and providing the support employees require to do their jobs effectively while maintain the right balance.
If you would like to maintain your work life flexibility while developing your career, why not consider studying an online management course with Sussex Business School. Contact us today!