While “work-life balance” might be a popular buzz term in the past few years, many employees have yet to reach a positive relationship between their work life and personal life. A survey from earlier this year conducted by FlexJobs found that more professionals are struggling with work-life balance now than they were three years ago. The survey analyzed results from over 1,200 employees to determine how work impacts their work-life balance, relationships, health, stress levels, physical fitness, and more.
Unfortunately, the survey didn’t reveal good news. According to its results:
- Only 30% of employees are currently satisfied with their work-life balance, compared to 45% in the same survey administered three years ago
- 37% of employees reported being stressed by their level of work-life balance – up from 29% in 2015
It was also noted that work was a top source of stress, with 86% of survey respondents reporting that work “conflicts with their efforts to take care of their overall health.” So, what can employers learn from this survey? Many studies have shown that traditional office schedules do more harm than good when it comes to employee health, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.
The survey also addressed how flexible work options might be the key to improving work-life balance. Many forward-thinking companies have adopted a flexible work environment to help improve work-life balance and reduce workplace stress – and many of these companies have experienced great results.
FlexJobs describes flexible work as “professional-level jobs that have a telecommuting, flexible schedule, freelance, or part-time component.” According to the survey, a majority of workers reported that having a more flexible job would impact their lives in many positive ways, including:
- 94% thought a flexible job would have a positive impact on their personal life
- 89% thought it would help them take better care of themselves
- 88% believed it would decrease their levels of stress
- 69% thought it would increase the frequency they exercised
- 88% said it would create more time to spend with family
- 78% thought it would help them be a better friend
Implementing a flexible work environment comes with many beneficial wellness perks for employees. These perks translate into better work performance and higher levels of productivity for employers. Which is why creating a flexible work environment might be your company’s best bet if employees report being unsatisfied with their work-life balance.
Creating a flexible work environment can be a bit tricky if your company has never strayed away from a traditional schedule. Fortunately, implementing flexible options isn’t costly or complicated. It’s a simple change, and with a bit of experimenting, you can find the type of flexibility that is right for you and your employees.
Below are some tips for creating a more flexible work environment:
Offer work-from-home opportunities. Telecommuting is an extremely important factor in creating a flexible work environment – especially for working parents. Telecommuting gives employees the opportunity to complete their work projects while also helping them take care of personal commitments. Start by offering employees the opportunity to work from home on an as-needed basis. Employees can take advantage of this on days where they have appointments, need to stay home with a child, or need some time away from the office to recharge.
Focus on accomplishments. If you want to create a flexible work environment, you need to shift your focus from hours to accomplishments. Just because one employee worked overtime doesn’t always mean they’ve accomplished more than a colleague who spent less time in the office. Employees should be recognized and rewarded for their accomplishments and work performance, not just the amount of time spent in the building.
Establish trust. Establishing trust is essential if you want your employees to have a positive experience with flexible options. Without proper communication, employees might be hesitant to take advantage of flexible work options in fear that they might be reprimanded. Be sure to talk through all policies with employees and maintain open communication while implementing a flexible work environment.
Offer flexible schedules. Flexible schedules allow employees to choose their own hours. Many employees report being more productive when they have flexible schedules because they are able to work when they feel most creative and energized. Employees can take advantage of flex hours when they have an early morning appointment or other commitment – without having to take time off of their workday. This option is also great for employees with long commutes to the office.
Get the right tools. It’s important to invest in quality technology in a flexible work environment. Employees need the right tools and software to be able to stay in touch when they are working outside of the office. Platforms such as Google Hangouts, Skype, Google Docs, and Dropbox are extremely helpful in keeping employees connected.
Offer unlimited PTO. Don’t forget about flexible vacation policies! Many companies are making the switch to unlimited PTO. This allows employees the freedom to take time off work whenever they need some time away from the office. Some research has suggested that unlimited PTO policies increase productivity, happiness, and employee morale. If your company isn’t comfortable with unlimited PTO policies just yet, try embracing a more flexible PTO policy.
Remember that flexibility isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Be sure to listen to your employees, encourage feedback, and find out which flexible options they’ll benefit from the most. Personalization is key to helping your employees achieve a positive work-life balance.
Does your company offer flexible options? Do you believe that a flexible environment improves work-life balance? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!
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