What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that over 90% of people working in your company manage their personal affairs during work time?
It’s an important question for every manager in today’s workplace; and I think the answer from your senior staff could hold the key to your success as a recruiter, employer and ultimately as a business.
We work too hard
Recent research suggests that the UK workforce spends more time on ‘life admin’ in a working week than they do on their lunch.
A similar study said that more than four million British employees work at least 48 hours a week, but they believe almost a third of their time is unproductive.
We all have lives and responsibilities outside of work, so if this is true, we’re spending far too much unproductive time in the office and being left with nowhere near enough free time to fit in life’s essential jobs.
How do we compare to elsewhere?
As technology continues to blur the boundaries between work and life, our neighbours in Germany and France are driving forward initiatives that aim to keep work and personal life separate.
Family time is highly valued in these countries, which often employ people to work fewer hours and give them more time off than we do in the UK.
In our defence, we have introduced the option for anyone who has worked at a company for more than 26 weeks to request ‘agile working’. This doesn’t have to be agreed but could be anything from job sharing to part-time work, or working from home.
In Germany and France, they now have legally set hours where staff must be offline or cannot be contacted by their employer. Strict regulations like these make sure people remain fairly paid for their time, and are also less likely to become stressed or burned out.
They protect people’s private lives, putting an emphasis on staff to use their time at work as productively as possible, something the UK could seemingly do well to learn from.
What your employees want
The majority of professional and office-based workers value flexible working conditions above all other benefits.
If you can create an autonomous and trusting environment within which people can work, combined with flexibility for staff to balance their own work and life priorities, you will have happy employees.
And of course, a happy workforce means greater productivity, increased staff retention and, most likely, a better chance to attract the very best people in your field to join you.
A rise in family-friendly workplaces, with different ways of working and a reduction in the time people need to spend at the office, means that a new corporate culture is beginning to emerge. One that defies the traditional 9 to 5.
Unless you’re planning to employ a corporate lifestyle concierge (yes they do exist!) that your staff can lean on to book their doctors’ appointments, get quotes for their car insurance or plan their holidays, you may want to think carefully about how you can shape a culture within your business that encourages people to integrate work and life better.
Start by asking your senior managers what their first thought is when they hear that statistic. If they react with horror and a desire to stamp this out, then you most probably have a need for cultural change.
If they show flexibility in their approach and an understanding of the needs of their team, then you’re most likely already on your way to creating an environment where people are able to find a work-life balance that suits them individually, boosting morale, reducing stress, improving engagement, recruitment and productivity.
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