The importance of maintaining a strong work/life balance

Studies have suggested that today’s employees find themselves increasingly drawn to roles that provide them with the opportunity to secure a strong work/life balance. With a recent study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealing three in five employees “work longer hours than they would like”.

With this in mind, finding ways to embrace a healthy work/life balance should help employers when it comes to attracting top talent. Initiatives such as flexible working are likely to prove especially popular amongst those with outside care commitments, allowing them a greater opportunity to balance their work and home lives, thereby exposing potential hirers to a wider talent pool in the process.

At the same time, allowing staff to reduce, or adjust, their working hours where necessary may also prove to be a powerful tool when it comes to retention. Guaranteeing a healthy work/life balance is likely to make staff think twice before looking for employment elsewhere, allowing employers to maintain a positive advantage over any competing organisations.

Having said this, offering flexible working is not the only way to maintain a positive work life balance as simply managing workloads effectively should reduce the need for staff to spend an unnecessary amount of time at work. Monitoring completion rates and preventing any non-excessive work pressures should ensure staff have enough free time to unwind at home, which should only help improve productivity in the long-run by ensuring they feel refreshed and raring to go each week.

Long working hours have also been accredited to the development of burnout amongst employees, as well as other mental health issues that are said to cost UK employers £33-£44billion each a year. Increasing the amount of work/life balance on offer is one way of addressing this issue, by affording staff a sufficient amount of down time that ultimately reduces the amount of sick days needed each year relating to mental health.

Whilst some employers may perceive staff that regularly stay behind at work or complete tasks at home as a sign of commitment, there is a risk that this could cause them to be in breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998. A recent Irish case set the precedent for an employee receiving compensation on these grounds, as an employer was found to have breached the law on minimum rest periods by placing an unlawful expectation on an employee to regularly work additional hours at home. Therefore, ensuring a positive work/life balance should reduce the risk of employers facing any costly tribunal proceedings.

Ultimately, given that employers should have the long-term success of their business in mind then it pays to give a significant amount of consideration to employees’ work/life balance. Employee wellbeing has, and will continue to be, a key factor in business objectives and employers are encouraged to embrace this as part of their company culture.

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