Workplace wellbeing: key to achieving a healthy work-life balance

Workplace wellbeing: key to achieving a healthy work-life balance

Managing employees’ health and safety whilst they are at work has long been the responsibility of their employer. There is now also growing demand for, as well as increasing evidence in favour of, employers to also invest in the overall wellbeing of their workers in order to keep absence levels at a minimum, retain and attract the best talent and increase overall productivity.

People are looking to work for organisations whose values and approach to work and life reflect their own, which increasingly appears to be described as a healthy balance of the two.

Importance of work-life balance for employees
Recent surveys amongst UK workers have revealed that achieving a healthy work-life balance is now more desirable than an attractive salary when looking for a new job. They are also looking for employment with flexibility, whether reflected in location and/or hours worked. This has proven to be a success as CIPD reports many organisations have stated that providing flexible working options for employees has helped to reduce stress levels.

Traditional perks employers have offered workers – for example, dress-down Fridays, weekly fruit bowls, a cycle to work scheme – are no longer as appealing to a population who have experienced a change in the nature and location of their work since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, workers are seeking employment opportunities that will not only meet their professional goals whilst they are at work but that will also allow them to pursue their interests and fulfil their responsibilities outside of work and also provide them with a lifestyle which supports a healthy balance of both the professional and personal.

Working from home
Whilst seen as something as a luxury in the past, working from home became the new norm for many during the pandemic with over a quarter of the UK population doing so at a time when government policy meant people were discouraged from going outside. People have continued to work from their homes either exclusively or via a hybrid model long after national restrictions were lifted, and many employers and employees have benefitted from this new way of working.

Businesses have managed to save much-needed cash during a time of global economic hardship by relinquishing some or all of their office space, whilst employees have enjoyed saving their money on the daily commute and other associated costs.

Another commodity which has been reportedly celebrated is the saving of time. As meetings, events and training courses have been taking place virtually people have reportedly been able to achieve more during the working day and experienced reduced stress levels.

Getting the balance right: challenge for employers
One of the main challenges for employers wanting to provide a healthy work-life balance for all staff is that the meaning of balance and how this manifests itself around people’s jobs can look different for different people. Although time and cost-savings have proven beneficial for many people working from home, other workers have expressed frustration at being physically isolated from colleagues and would prefer to work in an office full-time to benefit from face-to-face interaction.

As was the case before the pandemic, a one size fits all approach to the way a workforce operates rarely proves successful; using a tailored method to support the individual needs of employees is far more likely to result in improved job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.

In a recent study from CIPD (2022), organisations implementing a health and wellbeing strategy effectively are offering support to meet the potential challenges individuals may experience at different stages of their lives, such as caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives, pregnancy loss or chronic health conditions.

Ultimately employers creating a culture of wellbeing and demonstrating they genuinely care for their team are likely to benefit from a happier and loyal workforce.

Sources: Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (2022); HR Zone (2022) Working Families (2021); Randstad (2021); Mental Health Foundation (2021); The Gazette (2020).

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