Achieving work-life balance or work-life integration in today’s unpredictable and fast-paced society is critical in cultivating a healthy working environment. Although there are subtle differences between the two, both play important roles in making sure that employees are more than satisfied in their workplace. Where in work-life balance focuses on the hard line between work and personal life, work-life integration looks to incorporate the working schedule into daily life. In today’s society, instant connectivity and communication are expected, which makes the strict boundaries for work-life balance difficult to comprehend and practice. In contrast, work-life integration allows for more healthy synergies between work and life. A combination of the two, nonetheless, is necessary to help us prioritise what is truly needed.
Importance of Work-Life Balance:
Balanced employees tend to experience less stress, become more motivated, and attain a greater sense of wellbeing. Encouraging work-life balance and work-life integration in the workplace not only has immediate benefits for the business but also long-term cost-saving rewards with the increased productivity and talent retention. This is especially important as Singapore, in a 2019 study by technology company Kisi, was rated as the second most overworked city in the world. With how easy it is to get swept away by the busy and work-centric lifestyle, employers need to find different ways to advocate work-life balance and work life-integration for their employees.
Practices to promote work-life integration
1. Health and active resources
Being healthy and doing regular exercise can help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and stress while boosting energy levels, confidence, brain health, and memory. Although most people understand the benefits of doing exercise, those with busy lifestyles find it a challenge to schedule time specifically for it. In order to highlight the importance of work-life balance and give employees an opportunity to incorporate aspects of their personal life into their workplace, employers can provide free or discounted gym memberships to incentivise employees to do more exercise before, during lunch hours, or after work. Healthier employees are less at risk of getting sick and missing productive days from work.
2. Additional support
Provide extra support for employees to demonstrate that the company cares for their employees beyond just their work. Alleviate any additional stress that employees may have outside the workplace by offering medical services or child care benefits. This can come in different forms depending on the specific needs of the employees such as flexibility for employees to take time off to pick up or drop off their kids, extending maternity or paternity leave, providing comprehensive health insurance, or allowing an employee to work remotely if they need to take care of a close family member that is sick. While wellness, preventive and self-care benefits can ensure that the individual’s needs are taken care of, these types of additional support help to relieve stress that prevents employees from working to their full potential. Employers can consider offering employee training, workshops, and further education to employees as a way to feed their minds and become more capable members of the organisation. Urging employees to develop their skills can generate an encouraging positive work environment as well as happier and engaged employees.
3. Community Engagement
Build a strong community and encourage the feeling of camaraderie in the workplace by providing opportunities for employees to get to know each other in a non-stressful manner. Company outings and various team-building exercises help to naturally nurture supportive relationships and positive energy in the workplace which can help to raise productivity, foster loyalty, and reduce work-related stress. Strengthening friendships within the workplace helps to bridge the gap between work and life, reinforcing healthier work-life integration.
4. Flexible hours
Implementing flexible working schedules and the ability to work remotely can help to promote healthy work-life balance. Different influences in an employee’s life such as children, illnesses, and the elderly do not adhere to the strict business hours. Granting caregivers and parents the flexibility to work when they can, allows them to choose when they can work most effectively, creatively, and productively while demonstrating the company’s trust in the employees, raising overall morale.
5. Designated quiet space
Allocate a space specifically for employees to take mental health breaks. By having a calming area for silent reflection, employees are able to step away from the busy workday, recharge mentally, and come back to work with renewed energy. Employers can also consider integrating a time during busy workdays for healthy practices such as yoga and meditation to allow employees to manage their stress, feel more energised, and become more balanced. Encouraging vacation time also helps to encourage self-rejuvenation.
6. Suggestions from employees
With the different needs and dynamic of each company, employers can think about having a time and space for employees to share what they view as important to encourage work-life balance. Addressing the specific needs of each workplace can create mutually beneficial strategies for the company that works optimally.
Tips to Encourage Work-Life Balance
Introducing practices that promote work-life balance is not enough. There needs to be a culture shift within the company to make this into a priority. Employees at all levels have to be active promoters for each other. To boost this concept of work-life balance and work-life integration, here are some important tips for employers to cultivate a strong working culture.
Make sure that the employees know that work-life balance and work-life integration is important to the company. Communicate directly from the beginning to new hires to avoid employees from believing that they have work to their limit all the time and cause them to burn out. Sell to them why you, as an employer, regard this dedication to work-life balance a foundation to long-term success and cultivate happier, healthier, and better employees.
2. Maintain structural consistency
Preserve a sort of structural consistency within the organisation so that employees know what to expect day-to-day. Reducing the chaos and distractions in the workplace helps to calm employees and reduce anxiety.
3. Be a good model
As mentioned, it is crucial for all employees to promote this concept for it to be effective. Make sure individuals of all levels practice it and set an example for new hires. By doing so, a shift in behaviour and attitude towards life and work can become more balanced, fostering a working environment that is sustainable and harmonised.
At Links International Singapore, we understand the importance of work-life balance and work-life integration in the workplace. Improve talent retention rates and cultivate a healthy workplace environment by exploring our career tips, utilising our employee branding services, or taking advantage of our award-winning recruitment services. Get in touch with one of our specialists today to help with any HR-related queries!