3 Ways to Enhance Your Employees’ Work-Life Balance

Alice Bull
3 Ways to Enhance Your Employees’ Work-Life Balance

For the millennial and even Generation X-ers, who pioneered work-life balance, the value of flexibility surrounding their work and home lives is now more important than ever. Compared to the workplace culture for older generations such as the Traditionalists and Baby Boomers who tend to stay with employers for long periods of time and have a clearer divide between their work and home, the newer generations in the workplace have a new set of requirements they want from their employers.

Since the millennial generation entered into the workforce in the early 2000s there have been various articles and studies asking “what millennials want” from their careers. Companies need to ask themselves, how can we hire, hold on to and inspire this generation that will comprise of more than 50 per cent of the workforce by 2020?

Work-life balance is now a top priority according to a Generation Now Survey. From the 1,500 young professionals surveyed, the majority said work-life balance was even more important than ‘wealth’ and ‘leadership opportunities’. Businesses need to start realigning their attention to the newer generation’s needs within the workplace as in a couple of years they will be a commanding presence in the workforce. Millennials view work-life balance by looking at life as a whole and not as two separate things, they actually want work-life integration, that is, removing the boundaries between work and life.

Numerous studies into the ‘next generation’ reveal three reoccurring themes of what millennials are looking for in their potential employers. For business leaders, now is the time to begin to ask yourself if you can apply these requirements to your business to ensure an achievable work-life integration for your employees:

  1. Flexibility - What is your businesses’ approach to flexibility? Do you provide flexible work spaces, remote working options or flexible hours?

Whilst some business owners may think flexibility at work could be a hindrance to productivity – it can actually be a benefit to businesses as “22% of millennials would be willing to work more hours and 82% would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.”[1]

A recent study discovered that millennials “waste” six days of their annual leave on ‘life admin’, such as taking their car to the garage, waiting in for packages or attending doctor’s appointments.[2]

If flexible working can help employees achieve work-life balance, remain loyal to their business and work effectively - why not allow to work from home so they can attend appointments or stay in for deliveries?

Help motivate your staff by listening to their needs and encourage self-responsibility to ensure they are inspired to carry out their work when in a flexible environment.

  1. Communication - What’s the communication like between teams, generations and hierarchy within the business? Are you using technology effectively?

Millennials are used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips – when information about their own company is not communicated effectively it means dissatisfaction and a reduced loyalty towards who they are working for. So, it is important to look at what and how you communicate.

With regards to the what – the lack of open communication between employees, managers and business owners tends to result in employees who feel as though they are not trusted or valued enough for information to be shared with or only shared as an afterthought.

This is true for all generations however, it can be especially detrimental to those who employ millennials as this generation isn’t afraid to switch jobs if they’re unhappy. “By age 35, about 25% of young employees would have worked five jobs.”[3] Millennials will make career choices which benefit their work-life balance rather than remaining stuck and unmotivated in a company which doesn’t communicate or have their desired culture.

How you communicate is just as important. The differences between the generations is the way in which they like to receive information. The older generations prefer face-to-face and phone calls, whereas the younger generations see email and even texting as a suitable form of communication in business.

Is a meeting required for every single update about the business? Can an email be used to communicate the same message? Is it acceptable for an employee to text if they’re going to be late? Would utilising a variety of channels help your business communicate more effectively and efficiently?

  1. Training – What am I doing to enhance my employees’ learning? Am I improving my employees’ journey within the company?

“The millennial work force is on track to be the most educated workforce to date. Young adults are much better educated that all previous generations. With 21% of men and 27% of women have completed at least a bachelor’s degree, these higher levels of educational attainment among those ages 18 to 33 suggest that millennials, especially millennial women – while not currently ahead of Gen X-ers and Boomers in 2014 – are on track to be our most educated generation by the time they complete their educational journeys.”[4]

Millennials want all parts of their personal and professional lives to receive the same amount of focus and development. They desire a combination of achieving professional goals and having time to pursue personal goals.

How can you keep such an educated work force interested in developing their knowledge within a company, and can you contribute towards their career progression?

By encouraging the sharing of skills and knowledge between the different generations in the workplace helps to cultivate and enhance the talent already within a company. The older generations have years of experience in particular industries, and when shared will benefit a millennial just starting their careers.

Businesses who practise reverse mentoring monetise on the new generation’s adaptability to changes in technology, knowledge of social media and trends which enhances the older generation employees’ working life. 

These three key areas of flexibility, communication and training focus on the younger generations needs towards work-life balance, and what works for one generation may not work for another - one size does not necessarily fit all but it must be fair. There must be equal opportunities among the generations for they all have skills and needs which need to be considered for a successful work-life balance to be achieved.

Business owners and managers looking at the future of their companies, and their potential work force, must contemplate the newer generations’ needs in order to attract, manage and maintain their employees and work-life balance must be seriously considered. By allowing flexibility in the workplace, open and thoughtful communication throughout the business, providing professional development and allowing time to achieve personal goals, businesses will ensure that the newest generations in the workplace will want to remain and grow with them.

Stay tuned for more blogs and podcasts on Navigating Change in Uncertain Times over the coming year as we help leaders build business resilience with agility and speed.

Sources:

[1]https://www.flexjobs.com/employer-blog/flexjobs-survey-millennials-interested-travel-work-flexibility/

[2]https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/annual-leave-millennials-waste-life-admin-doctors-appointments-deliveries-household-chores-a8163426.html

[3]https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarahlandrum/2017/11/10/millennials-arent-afraid-to-change-jobs-and-heres-why/#ad0753719a50

[4]http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/19/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/

Alice Bull