Employees and employers often misunderstand work-life balance as a concept. Employees are driven so much by this buzzword that they fail to understand its meaning by themselves. It’s like, everybody wants it, but nobody has any clue about what it is precisely and how to get it. Also, For employers to promote the work culture, Often I see companies posting on social media that they don’t allow employees to work after 6 pm or ask employees not to entertain any calls after work hours, etc. Is that maintaining a work-life balance? NO.
When you say “work-life balance,” it means you prioritize your work or family responsibilities on one side and de-prioritize the other. Instead, employers and employees need to think about harmonizing work-life, prioritizing things in the various parts of life as you need them to.
What does work-life balance mean in actuality?
Honestly, It’s very subjective. Because the definition of work-life balance is like the definition of happiness – it’s up to you. And it can change with time. What you may consider balanced today may not be the case 5 to 7 years from now.
You might be that fresher who enjoys staying back after work hours, putting extra effort to gain some knowledge of other projects in a team, and creating a solid base for yourselves for your future endeavours – like starting a new business or aspiring to be a manager in 2 years, etc. Those learnings for you in your extra time spent at the organization can be a work-life balance for you. OR, you might be the founder of a growing start-up, and building that start-up is your priority, then that’s okay. To achieve that, you might be working for 60+ hours per week. That’s a work-life balance for you.
Also, you might be a person that chooses to work only 30 hours per week to spend time with your family. That’s a work-life balance for you.
That said, I think work is an essential aspect of our life. It’s a battle we pick to generate more meaning in our lives. Thinking life is only outside the workplace isn’t a wise framework. It shall very well include our workspaces as well. It’s like if you’re happy outside of your office place, then you’ll be more productive while working. And, if you’re content with your work, you’re more satisfied in life.
What can employers do to maintain their employees’ work-life balance?
- Understand the priorities of employees and then act. E.g., If the employee is interested in putting in extra effort and working for extra hours – involve him in different projects, assign him a good mentor, build an ecosystem around him and give him a platform to learn.
- Set expectations right and then provide them with control. Once they know their goals, let them decide how much and when they want to work based on their definition of work-life balance.
- Be transparent and open. Let your employees feel comfortable talking to you about an issue; you get the opportunity to address that issue then and there before it becomes a bigger problem.
- Provide the benefits they want. Everyone doesn’t need accidental cover insurance, or many won’t even opt for it. Consider alternatives such as giving them access to premium learning courses or arranging a daycare facility in your premises for working mothers.
- Arrange weekdays/working day events, where employees can show their families where they work and what they do. It can be a great educational & insightful experience for family members.
Most people want the opportunity to find a work-life balance that works for them. With a few initiatives mentioned above, employers can support the priorities and needs of their employees and reap the benefits while nurturing a work-life balance.
Also, there is no such thing as a perfect work culture that balances work and life, and you don’t need one. Just understand the priorities of your resources, act and help them, and you automatically win! It is a massive opportunity for business leaders to be the torchbearers guiding the path to building an inclusive work environment for all.