Essential terms used by HR and their meanings.

Work-life balance

Work life balance is an important aspect of the employee experience, and a major factor in accessing individual wellbeing and organisational culture.

What is work life balance

Work life balance is the organisation and prioritisation of personal and professional activities by the individual. It also encompasses the presence that work has within a home environment and how well an individual can create separation between working space and personal space.

A poor work life balance can be detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing as well as negatively impact individual productivity. In jobs where a physical workplace (such as an office or retail space) is not in use and where digital tools facilitate constant connection to work resources or communications, having a proactive approach to work life balance is essential for ongoing workforce management.

Getting work life balance right can have some big advantages for an organisation:

  • Engagement and motivation – having a well-balance personal and professional life will encourage greater employee engagement and lead to more motivated teams and individuals.

  • Productivity – reducing the likelihood of employees experiencing the detrimental effects of a poor work life balance will lead to longer periods of better productivity and performance.

  • Customer service – happier, healthier individuals are going to provide better levels of service to your customers and more proactively work to improve customer experience.

  • Retention – having a good approach to work life balance and helping individuals achieve the right equilibrium between personal and professional for themselves should contribute to better retention in the workforce.

  • Talent attraction – work life balance is one of the major areas of employer brand that candidates consider when researching potential employers. Have a clearly communicated and positive position on work life balance can help improve the quality of your talent pipelines.

Managing work life balance

Effectively managing work life balance can be a challenging proposition. The right balance is likely to vary between individuals and organisations. Looking at ways to build a varied set of options to allow people to manage their own work life balance and to adapt to changing circumstances could include:

  • Working from home – allowing time to be split between the office, or similar workspace and a home setting can help with time management, can help manage travel costs, and facilitate better performance in some circumstances.

  • Flexible time management – giving employees the chance to use flexitime to extend lunchbreaks for exercise, start later or finish earlier is a great support for those with family commitments, to provide extra exercise opportunities or for special social events.

  • Mental and physical wellness plans – ensuring that all individuals have options to support their mental and physical health should incorporate considerations of work life balance and the importance of mental and physical separation of personal and professional activities. This could also include things like volunteering programmes.

  • Family-friendly policies – making sure that those with dependents and familial commitments are empowered to adapt to different situations, such as school holidays or care requirements for older family members, can avoid high-stress situations where family and work would be placed in direct competition for time.

  • Setting clear boundaries – ensuring that people know when they are working and empowering them to switch off (especially for remote workers) will better equip them for managing their own balance of personal and professional. This can take many forms, from turn off times for work devices to encouraging and assisting in creating a distinct home working space.

  • Education and communication – informing the workforce about the importance of work life balance helps provide frameworks for managing this at the individual and team level. Encouraging open discussion on how different people manage personal and professional life, can help identify problems and help disseminate good practices.

The Practical Coaching Toolkit for Effective Leaders

The Practical Coaching Toolkit for Effective Leaders

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