“I believe a balanced life is essential, and I try to make sure that all of our employees know that and live that way. It’s crucial to me as a manager that I help ensure that our employees are as successful as our customers and partners. I also think that employees these days expect less of a separation of work and personal life. That doesn’t mean that work tasks should encroach upon our personal time, but it does mean that employees today expect more from the companies for whom they work. Why shouldn’t your workplace reflect your values? Why is ‘giving back’ not a part of our jobs? The answer for us is to integrate philanthropy with work.” ― Marc Benioff
A company comes to be recognized as good or bad depending on the kind of customer service and products it offers. Top class service and high quality products are possible only through the hard work and dedication of the company’s employees. We have discussed previously that happy employees make happy customers who in turn reward the company in many ways. It would be imperative then for a company to keep their employees happy and according to a study work-life balance is second only to compensation when taking into account what would keep employees satisfied. This research also found out that those employees who know that they have a good work-life balance work at least 21% harder than those who are constantly juggling work and home.
The fact is that will globalization and so many new channels of communication, the pace of work, seems to have become even more frenzied. Companies and customers expect employees to be available all the time – because they can, given that they all have smart devices and many even have remote working from home. Customers are stressed in the same way that companies are and deal with the same kind of apprehensions and uncertainty as the companies they do business with and so they have come to demand that whatever time of the day or night they reach out, they should be responded to and in the amount of time that they believe is suitable. All this does upset the work-life balance leading to frustrated and ‘burnt out’ employees who then seek other opportunities that would let them live their life as well. Given that a disrupted work-life balance will lead to employee attrition which in turn leads to a break in continuity and the resultant huge costs, companies are now putting in place a number of practices that will allow employees to remain happy and therefore stay with the company for long.
Flexible working hours, time-off, sabbaticals, work from home – are some of the ways that companies help employees maintain a work-life balance and also ensure that customer and business demands are met. The most noticeable benefit of work-life balance is that companies are able to attract the best talent, retain them and hence are not stressed about workplace productivity, allowing the company to forget ahead faster than their competitors. Such work-life balance practices are no longer a rarity as companies are experiencing the benefits and gaining the rewards of them and are doing whatever they can to support their employees and in return are creating the invaluable – employee loyalty. Employees work a lot harder and smarter when their family and social life is at ease – which is very important to people.
As technology soars, it is opening up new possibilities and amongst those are companies being able to link employees with work, at home. There are many job roles within a company that allow the employee the flexibility to choose their work hours and also work from home. Companies allow such employees to either work completely out of home or at least for most part of the work week. Employees who are not stressed out due to their homes perform a lot better and when they are happy at work they lead a happier life at home – a stable work-life balance is essential if companies want happy employees who will ensure the growth and success of the company. In fact it is the responsibility and onus of company to help employees achieve their work-life balance and in turn create huge benefits for themselves.
Many times companies get so caught up with other aspects of their business, that are critical too, that they forget to focus on helping their employees achieve a steady work-life balance. When customer complaints begin to rise, sales begin to dip and it gets increasingly harder to attract new customers and talent, companies wonder what they could have done wrong. In all likelihood, this critical aspect of keeping employees happy through a sustained work-life balance has been ignored. Happy employees not only make the company more successful, they also help to trounce competition given that the best talent remains with the company, customers receive great service and top class products, innovation and creativity is commonplace and whole work environment is constantly energized and abuzz with enthusiasm. Such a reputation in the business circles is a formidable way to sustain a company’s market leadership.
High employee satisfaction leads to boosted morale and as mentioned, a happy work-life balance occupies spot number two for employees amongst the myriad reasons that exist for them to stay with a company. I know of someone, very good at his work and a real asset to any company, who actually switched jobs for a slightly lesser salary because it offered better work-life balance in the form of flexi work hours and also work from home options. As a single parent, this person was able to care for his child and home better and helped his new company with many important deals and decisions. It is not surprising then that companies are seriously re-looking at their policies and operating standards to include a healthy work-life balance for their employees and in turn doing themselves a favour. Employees tend to have better attitudes, are less stressed and enjoy coming to work regularly when they know that the company they work for is intent on taking care of them.
Companies that understand the importance of work-life balance essentially qualify as good employers. The relationship between the employer and employees must remain healthy and positive and as employees are expected to produce a certain number of results, employers too must understand that the work and life spaces of employees are inter-connected and each individual employee would have a different set of needs and demands. Catering to all needs may not be possible, but by ensuring work-life balance companies contribute to the health and motivation of their employees and in turn build a workforce that will partner with them in the toughest crisis and help the company meet its goals.
For companies there are some clear benefits of a sustained work-life balance –
- the employees remain attentive and highly productive since they know that the other realms of their lives are also taken care of
- employees have heightened confidence and self-esteem, their health remains good as stress levels are negligible
- absenteeism is reduced since most of the time employees need time off for family emergencies or other chores that get ignored if their work life is too hectic
- they have better relationships with their employees who in turn pass on this to the relationships maintained with the company’s customers
- Employee attrition is greatly reduced. Employee turnover is one of the main causes of a company’s instability, losses and reduced customer base and no company can afford these costs or risks.
Employees are a company’s first customers and since building rapport and relationships with external customers is critical, companies know that this cannot be done without the help of their ‘first customers’. Ensuring that employees have a healthy and consistent work-life balance is a prudent and robust way to maintain the success and growth of a company.