4 Simple Steps to Achieving Work Life Balance

There is growing concern over work life balance in Singapore. In part one of our ongoing discussion surrounding work life balance, we looked at the impact it had on the lives of both foreign and local employees working in the Singaporean market.

Research looking at work life balance agrees that a lack of work life balance causes stress for individuals, lowering their productivity and could ultimately cost businesses their competitive edge. More than just the problem of lowered productivity, but if companies stayed indifferent to people’s need for better work life balance they may even have a problem of high turnover at hand.

Make sure you check out the previous article for more information on Why Work Life Balance Is a Concern for HR Teams in Singapore. Looking to elevate your HR? Click here to see how.

Achieving Work Life Balance on a Personal and Corporate Level

For there to be work life balance, both individuals and corporations need to be committed to the movement as it is a matter than stems across two paradigms. 

Here’s four steps individuals and corporations can take to achieve better work life balance in the workplace.

1.  Proper Time Management

Proper time management means prioritising the tasks that matters. By focusing on the things that contributes most to delivering the KPIs and eliminating or subverting tasks that have less impact, you can more effectively deliver on results.

Tips for Individuals:

From a personal perspective, individuals can look at what generates the greatest returns and put more focus on those tasks, organising your time based on what is most beneficial and can create the most returns.

Tips for HR teams:

To assist individuals at work, corporations should put structures in place for their employees to help define and track their progress. A way HR teams can do this is by designing a more holistic orientation and induction process, one that clearly communicates the role and responsibilities to new joiners.

Other ways corporations can help their employees better manage their performance and build the foundation for work life balance is to set clear KPIs.

Google for example uses the OKR “Objectives and Key Results” goal-setting framework which aims to more communicate the key indicators of performance in a more precise manner. This allows the employees to have a better grasp of their goal, making it easier for individuals to prioritise their time according to their work commitments as well as create a fairer work environment.


2.  Simplify, Automate, and Delegate – An Efficient Approach to Work

This can perhaps be considered a subsequent point to #1. A key to achieving work life balance is a better use of time and resources, however this is not to say to forego on all your other responsibilities. By asking yourself, what is the best way to achieve what you need to do with the least amount of effort, time, and energy without compromising on the quality allows you to focus on delivering better results.

Tips for Individuals:

We’ve all heard of “Work smarter, not harder”. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, however many people tend to lose sight of smart working and rely all too much on working hard when trying to improve their performance.

Working smart means cutting time spent on each task which would allow you to do more. This is especially important for repetitive tasks which can accumulate and eat up a great portion of your time. By simplifying, automating, and delegating, you can build greater momentum and be more productive at work, making it easier to achieve work life balance.

Tips for HR Teams:

A mistake smaller companies make is overloading their employees with tasks and responsibilities instead of choosing to outsource laborious tasks. By doing so, companies run the risk of burning out their staff, leading to possible problems of high turnover.

Instead weighing down on employees and lowering the productivity, a better approach is to streamline your operations by outsourcing strenuous tasks.

Companies can sometimes be swayed by the initial time and investment that is required in automation and outsourcing, but you shouldn’t let these initial steps prevent you from efficient working. Instead, take the time to calculate the impact it has by looking at the ROI so you can better determine the effect outsourcing will have on your business.


3.  Eliminate or the the Very Least Minimise Distractions

Work life balance means having time for both work and life. One of the main concerns for people is how work bleeds into their personal lives, taking time away from their family and other personal commitments. However the other side of the story that people give little attention to is how personal life can also bleed into work life.

Tips for Individuals:

Minimise the distractions at work, this may mean not fiddling with personal messages at work so that you can fully concentrate on the tasks at hand. On top of that, also allow time for yourself to dive into your work, this may mean setting a fixed time to reply to emails.

“…technology means that we’re all available 24/7. And, because everyone demands instant gratification and instant connectivity, there are no boundaries, no breaks.”

David Solomon, Global Co-head of Goldman Sachs

Instead of separating work and life entirely which isn’t realistic given the dual earning nature of Singapore and the society, (family responsibilities) in a society that is increasingly interconnected it may be helpful to give yourself small guidelines and goals which would help eliminate distractions and interference.

This can be as small as putting in targets of completing a given task before looking at your phone so to not be tempted by each passing incident that fights for your attention. This would also mean properly communicating timelines and setting the expectation of not bringing work home.

Tips for HR Teams:

While technology can mean the blurring of lines between work and personal, there are also steps companies can take to help their employees better schedule their work and  regain control.

HR analytics is a great way to gain insight of how your staff works and help them become more efficient at what they do. By opening this information up to them also allows them to better determine when they are most productive and least distracted so they can better organise their time.

4.  Health Matters

Achieving work life balance relies on productive work, which is heavily dependent on a healthy body and a clear mind. Without sounding overly new age, all this is to say that health matters and plays a big part in delivering results.

Tips for Individuals:

20% of the currently workforce across Asia Pacific is at age 50 or above. As the general workforce rises in age, it will become more important for employees to take care of their health both on a individual and corporate level. As part of the pursuit to achieving better work life balance, it will be important for job seekers to look beyond the financial benefits of a role but to also consider the non-monetary features, such as the corporate health and wellness programmes.

Tips for HR Teams:

When turnover and productivity is at stake, with up to 72% of employers in Singapore feeling that productivity is affected by the issue of stress and mental health, it is critical that companies start putting corporate wellness programmes in place to take care of their employees.

While companies without health and wellness programmes have more to do, that is not to say that corporations that already have such programmes are in the clear. With majority of organisations seeing the need for better corporate wellness programmes, companies will need to make sure that what they offer is relevant to the evolving market for better workplace wellness programmes.

Blog_3 take home message_HRO

The verdict is clear
Work life balance is an essential point for employees and organisations going forward. Both companies and individuals will need to work hand in hand in order to make work life balance a reality of the future.

Time management is key
Set proper goals and prioritise the key responsibilities that will positively contribute to your KPI. Apply the 80/20 rule and concentrate on things that will create the most returns.

Work smart, delegate
Measure the ROI and determine the path of least resistance in the long run. Offload the weight to professionals by outsourcing so you can concentrate on the things that matter.

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