Defining “work-life balance” is difficult. Eventually, as you stay committed to finding what works for your organization, the definition becomes less nebulous. At Helios, our definition centers around integration instead of balance. When we first start, we work with our mentors and team leads to determine what works for us: when to answer immediately, when to allow the email to sit until morning, and when to leave the phone altogether.
As we spend this October recognizing the twelfth occurrence of National Work & Family Month, Helios recognizes that the question of how to better enable work-life balance is a recurring one. You know what’s great about that? It should be recurring! The workplace, the folks in it, the technology available and more continues to evolve and it’s our job to keep evolving with it.
By continuing to examine our practices, to identify what’s working and what’s not, the “why should I care?” of this becomes clear. In our 2015 Apollo Awards Whitepaper, we highlight that organizations that take steps to make a positive impact in the lives of their employees were more likely to experience higher levels of engagement. That increased engagement can lead to a lot of things: decreases in turnover and absenteeism, and increases in profitability and productivity.
Now that we have the “what” and the “why”, what about the “how”? How do we identify what matters, what we can do to help, and what may need to change to better facilitate the well-being of employees when it comes to their work-life balance?
Three Steps to Review and Revamp Your Evolving Work-Life Practices
1. ) Ask for, and don’t be afraid to hear, the truth.
It can be difficult to hear the “hard truth”, and as HR practitioners, there’s nothing more important than being tuned into the health of the organization and its culture. A lack of work-life balance manifests itself in so many different ways – from being late to missing deadlines to not showing up at all – that we may not identify them as being related to a lack of balance readily. At Helios, we recommend and regularly conduct “stay interviews/engagement check-ins.” This encourages leaders to spend time talking through the ups and downs of employment for each team member, not their team as a whole. This information helps identify and abate concerns, as well as highlight and build on the positive.
Although offering an opportunity for each individual to express their thoughts is crucial, we also recognize the importance of keeping your finger on the pulse of the organization as a whole. Gathering this information on a grander scale commonly takes on the form of a culture survey, one of our most requested services. During this process, we help organizations identify areas of excellence and opportunity, ensuring each client receives actionable feedback on how to continue developing and attain the culture they are aiming for.
2.) Take the leap.
It’s only natural; we assume when we can’t see someone in the office that they aren’t working. To help your team get a better grasp on the balance of work and home, it takes your organization taking the leap of not focusing quite so much on the conventional 40 hour work week, rather, focusing on the work getting done and getting done well. It’s a hard transition to make, so ensuring your leadership team understands the implications and team members know the expectations for availability, work output, etc. will be key.
3.) Be flexible.
Having a policy for your organization’s telework, flexible work arrangements, etc. in place is great, in fact, it’s a best practice. However, when a solution doesn’t fit directly into what’s already defined, it’s natural for there to be some friction. Take the time to do your research and learn more about the potential fix, why it isn’t already an option, and anything else that may be holding you back from offering it. If it seems reasonable and works for the individual’s work assignments, don’t brush it off. Think about it and take the time to seriously consider the implications.
Ready to get started but aren’t sure of next steps? Try taking a pulse with a stay interview or a culture study conducted by a third-party to get honest feedback from your employees.