CEO Blog: Striking the balance

by Gillian Johnson

I found an interesting stat when I was googling around recently from the Office for National Statistics. Its reads: almost one in two (48.4%) of adults aged 16 and over in Great Britain report a relatively low satisfaction with their work-life balance. That’s a staggeringly high number in my opinion.

The work-life balance debate is obviously a very subjective one; some people may have children; some may still live with their parents; some may absolutely love their job; some might hate it. But, regardless of the situation, I really do believe that everyone needs to strike the ‘right’ balance if they want to be the best; not only in their job, but the rest of their life as well.

I think the most important to thing to say about work-life balance is that it isn’t always down to the individual to manage; employers may have to look at what they can do to help as well.

So what things do you need to look at to help encourage balance?

Treat everyone on a one case basis

I think that this is something often overlooked by employers in general (especially when that stat mentioned above looks so alarming!). Some people can go at it for 12 hours-straight without batting an eyelid and still feel as fresh when they turn up for work the next day. Others may need more time to recover and need the time outside of work to recoup.

By supporting everyone as individuals, knowing when people are feeling the effects of long office hours, employers will know how to get the best out of their employees and will encourage flexibility and their willingness to stay late or put in the extra hours when they’re needed. Consider things such as letting them come in an hour or so later the next day or an early finish on Friday after a late stint at the desk earlier in the week.

Obviously, this all needs to be within reason and fairly administrated across the board, but such a simple thing can be used to really keep the drive employees need so they don’t feel overworked.

Make sure no one feels like a ‘busy-fool’

Maybe you know of a few busy fools? Maybe you’ve been one yourself in the past? Sometimes for people it’s not the amount of work that people have to do that makes them feel dejected, stressed and exhausted, but the reasons why the work needs to be carried out.

I think any task set to anyone should either have a clear reason for it or have someone to explain why the work needs to be carried out. An employee who knows why they are doing something – how it matters to the business and what it helps to achieve – will empower them to be more productive with the tasks given to them. The long hours won’t be an issue for them because they understand the importance of making sure they get the work done.

Be open to suggestions

How people determine success in their work and in their personal life can be quite different to one another. Listening to the suggestions from the organisation can help to create systems to further promote a work/life balance that satisfies everyone.