Dr Bharati Singh, Senior Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School
This is my 3rd blog and I will continue with the theme of sharing my thoughts from previous corporate employment. So, this one is dedicated to work-life balance.
While teaching on a level 6 module ‘Change and Transformation’ we watched a video where the HR Manager for sales in Google was talking about creating trust and people management (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRsJbpppvEU). She stated that she does not check on how much time her team spends in office or how many sick days they take. She further said that there was no rule on specific office timings. It was all about performance which was evaluated quarterly and an individual could decide how they met their targets as they were adults and could work out their own schedules and holidays; thus, managing their work/life balance.
This reminded me of one of my favourite bosses in the corporate world. I had to travel home which was in another city on a personal emergency and in my request did mention that all work will be taken care of – his reply – I don’t care if you work out of Timbuktu, till the work is done. That was the trust my boss had in me and that trust helped in creating the best work/life balance I had in my corporate life.
A checklist by CMI, confirms that the employers need to provide the control to employees to manage their working arrangements taking into consideration their social aspects and also achieve organisational objectives.
If organisations offer flexitime, the communication should be clear and the corporate culture should support it. Creating a culture of respect and trust (Grimes, 2011) is the first step towards successful flexitime policies supporting work/life balance. This is not easy and has its challenges; however, with correct implementation, this can lead to employer/employee satisfaction, thriving organisations and increased employee retention.
In the face of the pandemic, when working from home has become the ‘new normal,’ the need for trust between employer and employee has further heightened. Many companies like Unilever have gone on record about increased productivity and increased employee engagement as an outcome of remote working.
In a study conducted on ethical behaviours by managers, trust shown by senior management and supervisors and their support for work/life balance was perceived to be ethical (Cowart, et al., 2014).
The Mental Health Foundation, UK has also confirmed that 1 in 6 people will experience mental health issues emanating from a negative work/life balance. Thus, it is imperative that organisations support work/life balance. This can be achieved by:
- Clear guidelines by the organisation
- Transparent dialogue between employer and employee
- Expectations management
- Trust across the ranks and not only limited to a few employees
- Taking personal responsibility
- Conducive work environment
- Clear demarcation between work and life