Improving employee work-life balance

National Work Life Week - 7th - 11th October 2019

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Health Assured team

13 January 2022

Most of the time, we tend to prioritise our professional life over our personal one. It’s very common to see people grow their careers; whilst disregarding their own wellbeing and health in the process.

Employers should aim to establish a healthy and harmonious work-life balance. This can drastically improve physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing – for both staff members and employers.

Whilst doing so, you must ensure these changes don’t affect employee rights and entitlements. If not, you could face claims of unlawful treatment – leading to costly legal fees, financial penalties, and business disruptions.

Read about the benefits and challenges of a work-life balance; what the laws are; and how to improve work-life balance in your business.

What is a work-life balance?

A work-life balance is where a person creates a sufficient equal level between their professional and personal life.

The individual (you or an employee) follows a method where they’re able to carry out duties and tasks – without sacrificing personal goals and aspirations.

The importance of a work life balance not only reduces stress and burnout, but it also helps manage employee wellbeing.

Factors contributing to a work-life balance

Taking rest breaks, leaving on time, and avoiding emailing outside work hours – all these can lead to healthy and successful work routines.

But these don’t have to relate to work tasks and production. You can offer gym memberships, dry cleaning services, or even help with finance and taxes. It all counts towards improving your staff’s work-life balance.

Some benefits of work life balance for employees can include:

  • High levels of output and productivity.
  • Improved workplace morale and motivation.
  • Increased retention and candidate applications.
  • Reduced sick leave and absence.

However, there are challenges in a work-life balance which can affect both you and staff members. For example, these workplace changes can create:

  • Complacency: It’s important for employees not to take advantage of workplace benefits. For example, if you provide an additional rest break, they should stick to reasonable boundaries and avoid exploiting this.
  • Lack of communication: You should aim to provide the same level of communication for all employees; especially remote or part-time workers. For example, if an employee lives in an area with a bad phone signal, you could face delays in business production.
  • Disruptions: It might prove difficult for remote employees to work without distractions. For example, disruptions can come from children, pets, and other family members.

What are the laws on work-life balance?

Whilst there isn’t specific work-life balance legislation, employees are still entitled to select legal rights.

Whatever policies you create to improve work-life balance, they mustn’t affect your staff’s legal entitlements, like:

  • Parental Leave (for employees with 52 weeks’ service).
  • Time off for carers.
  • Right to refuse contract changes (especially if they cause contract breaches, discrimination, or unfair dismissal).
  • Right to request flexible working (for employees with 26 weeks’ service).

How to improve work life balance for employees?

There are many strategies for improving work life balance within your business. From taking proper breaks to avoiding overtime – employers should outline appropriate work routines to follow.

Leading by example will not only reduce work-related stress, but also set a precedent for production turnarounds and completions.

Here are some work-life balance initiatives for employees to follow:

Regulate workloads

One method that employers could use to improve their staff’s work-life balance is to regulate workloads. Reviewing tasks and duties will help manage and reach reasonable targets.

At the same time, you could review whether tasks are suitable for employees. Not everyone will have the right training or competence skills. Through communication and reviewing, you can manage issues, like work-related stress or overworking to meet goals.

Stick to working hours

A common factor which happens time and time again, is blurring work hours. If employees generally work between 9am and 5pm, then they should stick to these working hours.

Sometimes, employees might be tempted to work overtime to finalise a task. But you should strictly discourage this – once the working day is done, encourage them to ‘log-off’.

Encourage rest breaks

Another blurred line that reoccurs is postponing or skipping breaks entirely. You should encourage your employees to take rest and lunch breaks.

It’s unhealthy and unethical for employees to work for long hours continuously. Remind them of the health benefits of taking breaks, talking walks, or even getting fresh air.

You could designate rest areas and rooms, which allows employees to get away from their work desk when needed.

Offer flexible working conditions

A huge change can come from offering flexible working conditions, like remote or hybrid. This is especially useful if an individual faces drastic changes – from personal or social matters.

Whilst a shift in working conditions might seem daunting, you should value the importance of flexible working. Employers should entrust their staff to manage their workload and fulfil their tasks properly, outside of the workplace.

Re-evaluate time-off rules

The best way to avoid overworking and burnouts is to encourage taking time off.

Re-evaluating time-off rules can help you manage workplace issues whilst avoiding business disruption. Ensure employees take their legal amount of time-off; and avoid carrying holidays or wasting them.

Time-off rules can also cover training or work experience which employees might be interested in. Allowing them to develop their skills and knowledge will prove beneficial for more than just their resumés.

Support parent and carer employees

One of the biggest issues with balancing work and personal life is dealing with family matters.

Employees who are parents or care for other people are often left unsupported and forgotten. Without proper care, you could face losing quality workers and disruption to your business.

Consider implementing crèche services, childcare benefits, and flexible working hours for carers. You should also ensure employees receive their legal entitlements for parental and carers’ leave and pay.

Get guidance on improving work-life balance with Health Assured

As an employer, it’s impossible to create the perfect work-life balance. Your employees will have individual needs; so, catering to every single one is impractical.

Instead, you should discuss and agree to mutual and reasonable workplace changes. These must follow legal rules, as well as moral and ethical ones.

Without this, you could face tribunal claims and legal fines. And these are, not only costly, but can create immense business damage and disruption.

Health Assured provides guidance on how to implement work-life balance changes. Our teams offer specialised knowledge on employee rights and wellbeing whilst considering your business needs.

We provide a 24/7 helpline, that’s open 365 days a year – helping you care for your staff all year round. Arrange a call back from an expert today on 0844 891 0352

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