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What is a Healthy Work/Life Balance?

It’s a popular buzzy term at the moment, but what is a healthy work/life balance? And how can you ensure your organisation is providing it?

Deloitte’s most recent Gen z and Millennial Survey showed that among the things most important to the largest age demographics in the workplace was mental health. Almost half of respondents either felt burned out due to the intensity of their workload or recently left their organisation due to burnout. More than half noted that their organization talks more about mental health recently, but there’s been no meaningful impact on employees.

For business owners, it is important to consider Deloitte’s results with the changing expectations of generations. Gen Z’s and Millennials expect workplace cultures and practices to support their desire for balance, presenting both opportunities and challenges.

Despite the evidence that working long hours can not only be detrimental to employees’ health and that there’s no evidence that employees who are overworked accomplish more, our workforce still tends to penalise employees who are transparent about working less. This comes from cultural assumptions and ingrained habits around work hours.

Not having an organisation geared toward a healthy work/life balance results in a vicious cycle of stress and burnout. Ultimately, by not providing a mentally healthy workplace or recognising the need for lower work hours you’ll lower your employee’s productivity and output, not to mention your retention rates.

Starting to foster a mentally healthy workplace culture can be difficult, but there are some things you can do as an employer to help start the process and in turn, start to increase output and staff retention.

Here are some helpful hints as to how your organisation can start to foster a good work/life balance in employees:

  • Encourage a culture of openness so employees can speak up if they feel they’re under too much pressure
  • Offer flexible and remote working where possible
  • Encourage breaks, during the working day and by using annual leave
  • Regularly review your employee’s workloads to make sure they are achievable
  • Increase support for parents and carers
  • Ask employees what would improve their work-life balance
  • Allow open working hours, measure performance based on tasks rather than hours in the office/at active work

Sources: Deloitte, Harvard Business Review, Mental Health Foundation (UK)

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