In today’s competitive business environment, companies that support work-life balance practices and encourage their employees to manage their personal life effectively will come out on top. In this article, we provide some practices to help you promote a better work-life balance among your employees.
A good work-life balance if taking a prominent role in the lives of professionals in MENA. In fact, a good work-life balance was identified by Bayt.com’s ‘Employee Motivation in the MENA Workplace’ survey (January 2013) as the top motivating factor for professionals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Here are 12 practices from the experts at Bayt.com which you can introduce into your organization to encourage a better work-life balance:
1. Management support for work-life balance is critical, and it must come from the top. Too often, the perception that hard work is the only way to rise in a company keeps employees at the grindstone, working themselves into illness. Top executives can set examples of good work-life balances and make it known that the same is expected from rank-and-file employees.
2. Surveys of employees’ work-life issues can help a company understand workers’ needs and design appropriate policies to meet them.
3. Set priorities for all work. When priorities are unclear, employees tend to overwork because they think that everything must get done at once. Setting priorities allows workers to schedule tasks over a reasonable period of time.
4. Train line managers to recognize signs of overwork. Supervisors can spot increasing error rates,absenteeism and signs of stress-related burnout more easily than anyone else in the organization. Workers who show these signs of a poor work-life balance can be referred to employee-assistance programs.
5. Seminars on work-life balance can help employees understand its importance and find ways to achieve it. Such seminars teach employees how to better manage their workloads, eliminate unproductive work habits, get sufficient exercise and negotiate more flexible work conditions that meet their needs.
6. Flextime is one of the most useful tools in helping workers achieve a good work-life balance. Achieving a good work-life balance for your employees could be as simple as altering work arrangements by including flexible hours, part-time and telecommuting, in addition to sabbaticals for long-serving personnel and extended leave periods for new parents. In fact, 22.7% of respondents in Bayt.com’s ‘Work-Life Balance in the MENA Region’ poll (September 2012) said a flextime arrangement with same total hours would be most appealing to them at work.
Companies should identify which jobs lend themselves to flexible work scheduling and implement formal policies for coordinating flexible schedules with an employee's supervisors and co-workers.
7. Telecommuting is a way for employees to work from home which cuts down on stress and unproductive time due to a commute. Telecommuting can be a good option in some cases and was favored by 10.4% of respondents in Bayt.com’s ‘Work-Life Balance in the MENA Region’ poll.
8. Encouraging the use of vacation and sick-leave time. Supervisors should advise employees to use their vacation and sick-leave benefits when signs of burnout or illness arise.
9. A formal leave policy for employees with dependents recognizes and encourages the need to care for sick children or elderly parents.
10. Limit how often employees take work home. The line between work and home lives tends to blur when employees regularly take work home. This practice should be monitored by management personnel, who should also develop plans for making sure that work gets done at the office instead of at home.
11. Some companies allow employees to take leave for community service. These firms recognize that employees obtain life satisfaction from projects or work outside of their regular jobs.
12. Sponsoring employees’ family-oriented activities is another way to combine work and life. Sporting events, excursions to amusement parks, fishing trips and other family-oriented jaunts are good opportunities to help employees strike a work-life balance.
Companies can’t ignore the fact that maintaining a work-life balance has become increasingly important in today’s workplace. Companies that encourage a healthy lifestyle and accommodate for different priorities on a year-round basis are most likely to expect improved motivation and loyalty levels amongst their employees.