From the time an employee gets up in the morning until the time she goes to bed, balancing work with the rest of life always lurks somewhere in her consciousness. Getting the project done on but finding time to grab a quick lunch with friends; taking that last afternoon phone meeting but leaving to take Sally to karate lessons. It’s a never-ending balancing act.
As business demands make work schedules more hectic, work-life balance has given way to work-life integration. With people now working remotely, having flexible hours, interacting with friends who are also colleagues, and using mobile devices as a lifeline, work and life are intertwined — at all hours of the day and night.
How employees manage their time reflects their own self-images as much, if not more, than situations at work or home. For example, perfectionists may see no choice than to put more time into work to get the job done right. Employees intent on “being the best” may need to put in longer hours to secure their status as an elite performer. Their view of work life vs. everything else contrasts with those whose passions lie outside of work.
Employers play an important role in employees’ work-life integration. You can create a culture that values making work meaningful and provides tools to give employees the power to manage their careers with opportunities for growth. And you can encourage employees to live meaningful lives outside of work.
Brandon Hall Group created a blueprint for organizations to help employees navigate the work-life obstacle course while creating a culture of high performance. Here’s an overview, and you can access the full report here:
- Advocate for Wellness. About 70% of organizations offer formal wellness/well-being programs beyond standard health insurance. The depth and breadth of your program signal how serious you are about advocating for your employees’ well-being. For example, offering annual health-risk assessments, done by 57% of organizations, sends a strong message of support.
- Provide a Flexible Work Environment. Employees expect to have the same choices and flexibility at work that they have at home. But business goals and needs require policies that are more restrictive than some employees like. Organizations should regularly review their environment to make sure it is flexible and supports work-life integration.
Companies can use technology to support their workforce by making administrative tasks easier. For example, up-to-the-second pay changes are now possible with HCM cloud technology. This is particularly helpful when employees have different roles within one shift – possibly switching from hourly wage to supervisory wage in retail or manufacturing environments.
- Enable Strong Performance. Performance enablement occurs through frequent goal-setting, continuous feedback and coaching, and frequent performance conversations. HCM cloud technology provides360-degree feedback, giving employees and managers a stronger platform to express viewpoints and provide feedback. Performance enablement gives employees some control over their work interactions and their success, leading to better work-life integration.
- Recognize Employee Contributions. Recognition comes in various forms. Many organizations use HCM cloud technology to manage their reward programs. It’s important to give recognition even in the simplest ways, like a ‘thank you’ for a job well done. Recognition is critical to high- But more than that, it impacts how employees view the roleof work in their lives.
- Provide Clear Career Paths. There is often a disconnect between individual career goals and the organization’s ability to communicate clear paths for achieving those goals. Only 9% of organizations provide clear, well-communicated career paths for more than half of their employees. Focusing on career development is critical for organizations.
- Build an Inclusive Culture. Most people want to be part of something greater than themselves. When employees feel included in your organizational culture, the value of work grows from a means to a paycheck, to a feeling of belonging. While 78% of organizations say they have an inclusive environment, the degree of inclusion varies.
Today, and in the workplace of the future, employees’ work lives and personal lives will become more intertwined. For employees to find value and satisfaction from both, employers must support work-life integration and build a partnership with employees.
Claude Werder is Brandon Hall Group’s Vice President and Principal HCM Analyst. He focuses on Leadership Development and Talent Management. Brandon Hall Group is a leading research and analyst firm with Practices in Learning & Development, Talent Management, Leadership Development, Talent Acquisition and Workforce Management/Core HR.
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