Striking the Work Life Balance

Office Management


The Ultimate Employee Motivation Guide: Chapter 3

A poor work-life balance can lead to productivity lags, with employees under excess pressure, working from home and at weekends. Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation reveal that 40% of employees regularly neglect their home life due to pressures from work, with the number of excess hours spent at work directly correlating with unhappiness. In the long run, this can significantly impact business output if the problem is companywide, even leading to a decline in employee retention levels as workers begin to resent their jobs.  

Too much work Too Much Work - Photo by HKU RBR



Who’s Responsible?

Many businesses assume that responsibility for work-life balance lies with the employee – but any good manager knows that ensuring your employees lead a balanced lifestyle means they are more productive during office hours. Therefore, responsibility for managing work-life balance should lie evenly between the employer and employee. Featured Expert: “Excessive work demand can seriously affect your health. High stress levels are damaging to your wellbeing. Being unable to secure an effective work-life balance can lead to broken relationships, both at work and at home. Make sure your work is not damaging your health and wellbeing.” Ian Draper – The UK National Work-stress Network. Colgate-Palmolive was recently named top of the pile for employee work-life balance by job site Indeed. Mark Steinerd, director of recruitment, highlighted how their flexible approach benefits the organisation. “Colgate-Palmolive offers some great benefits, such as flexible work hours, telecommute options, and nearby back-up childcare centres, which is a nice perk for work-at-home parents. As a result, Colgate-Palmolive has a high rate of employee retention, which is a testament to their culture.” Take Action: Ensure your management team are well versed on the damaging effects of poor work-life balance by performing an audit of all business policies to ensure these are not detrimental to employees.  

Unmanageable Workloads

One of the primary causes of poor employee work-life balance is management overworking employees by setting unrealistic goals. This isn’t always the fault of management either, as employees gradually get used to larger workloads, accepting additional responsibilities as they are afraid to say “no”. Combat this by creating an open office culture, encouraging employees to speak up about workloads without fear of being penalised. Project managers should work closely with teams when supervising daily tasks, asking employees for regular updates in a friendly manner, allowing them to re-prioritise and adjust the workload.   Featured Expert: “There is no one-size-fits-all because we are all at different stages of our lives and have different priorities and goals. Getting the balance right supports us in achieving our goals, as well as in our overall enjoyment of our day to day lives. This is not without its challenges, and effort is required to consciously determine where we wish to spend our time each day – prioritising activities and managing our time effectively helps us achieve the balance.” Nick Achilleos of the Stress Management Society.  

Key Points For Employers:

  • A poor work-life balance can have serious negative consequences for both businesses’ and employees’ health
  • Employers have a responsibility to help manage their employees work-life balance
  • Work with your employees to set realistic workloads, ensuring that enough time and resources are allocated to completing projects
  • Encourage an open culture, where employees aren’t afraid to speak up if they are struggling with their workload
  • Flexible working hours, child care, increased leave and holiday allowances can all be leveraged to improve employee productivity during office hours