How Important is Work-life Balance and Why?

Work-life balance is probably one of the most important factors for candidates when considering a new job, and also one of the most significant factors that can lead to employees wanting to leave their current job.

It can be also be a contributing factor when it comes to employee engagement, or lack thereof. There isn’t necessarily a “perfect” work-life balance, as people will always want more than what they have, and naturally priorities vary from person to person. Here are some thoughts on understanding work-life balance and what it means for an organisation to implement work-life balance strategies.

1. What is the definition of work-life balance?

Work-life balance is a concept that defines a fair prioritisation between an employee’s work and their lifestyle. An employee’s lifestyle can include family, travel, health and leisure. An increasing number of employees weigh work-life balance as more important than salary. (See Links International’s 2016 Asia Salary Snapshot).

2. Statistics of Singapore workforce

In order to retain good talent, offering competitive pay packages is not necessarily enough. Companies need to go beyond this, and therefore a good work-life balance is essential. A recent survey shows that 55% of respondents in Singapore would consider higher pay for the opportunity to learn new skills, whilst a considerable 45% of respondents would prefer a more flexible schedule than higher pay.

3. Why implement work-life balance strategies?

It is very important to implement work-life balance strategies for the following reasons:

  • Higher productivity and work efficiency
  • Retention of talent
  • Less burn out, leading to reduced leave or sick leave taken by employees
  • Improved customer experience
  • Improved employee engagement and satisfaction

4. How can work-life balance strategies be implemented?

There are several ways in which work-life balance strategies can be implemented

  • The first of these is to introduce a flexible work arrangement for employees, allowing them to have flexible working hours and even work from home:
    • Given today’s technology, flexible working arrangements mean a reduction in travel time from an employee’s home to their work place, subsequently increasing their work output.
    • Knowing they have limited time to finish each project, employees with flexible work arrangements will concentrate more on finishing work quickly and efficiently.
    • Employees are responsible for their own performance and getting their projects done on time, therefore maintaining a greater degree of independence and self-motivation, which leads to better employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • The second suggestion for implementing work-life balance strategies is an increase in annual leave:
    • Recently the Singapore government has implemented additional leave that promotes a better work-life balance. For example, childcare leave has this year been extended to six days per year. This allows parents more opportunities to stay at home with their children, meanwhile employers can be reimbursed by the government for the last three days of childcare leave taken by employees.
    • The government will most likely be extending paternity leave to a month next year. Again this is another example that leads to work-life balance and promotes family in Singapore.
    • With regards to resigning employees, employers have the chance to offer that employee sabbatical leave in order to retain their position should the employee need some time off for whatever reason, without having to lose that employee.

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5. Tips for employees on how to achieve a good work-life balance

  • Work-life balance is not only the balance between work and family, but it can be “work and leisure”, “work and health” and so on. It’s important to make time for these things and do things for ourselves.
  • Hiring a good helper is another way to achieve a good work-life balance. This way we can reduce the time spent on household chores, running errands for household items and so on, in order that we can have more quality time for other things that are more important to us.
  • Exercise – when people are busy and have a packed schedule, exercise is the first thing that they turn down. It is, however, really important to make sure you get daily exercise – not only is it good for your health, but it can also help to boost your spirits and give you energy.

To conclude, it is vital that we maintain a decent balance between our work and our family and hobbies in order to be fully content and more effective at work.

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