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Work and Life Balance

Work-life balance is the ability of employees to balance the needs of their workplace with other needs in their lives. It does not mean dividing an employee’s time in half between their home and professional lives. What may work for one employee may not work for another, because of differences in work, home lives, interests, stress. etc.

“Health Canada estimates the annual financial loss from the challenge of employees balancing work and family obligations at $2.7 billion due to lost time relating to stress, medical leaves, dealing with dependants, and other family responsibilities” (The Business Case for Work-Life Balance, HRSDC, Government of Canada).

Indicators of a Work and Life Balance Problem

There are many indicators of a work and life balance problem. Some of these include:

  • High staff turnover or inability to keep staff
  • Increased sick or unpaid leave
  • Increased stress symptoms among staff
    • Moodiness
    • Memory problems
    • Nervous habits
    • Low productivity
    • Sense of depression
  • Need to re-evaluate existing staff benefits
  • Increased personal calls at work

There are many solutions to help increase work-life balance. Remember that there is no one solution that achieves work-life balance for all employees. Here are a few:

  • Flex Schedules: allowing employees to start and finish work at different hours
  • Job Sharing: allowing two or more employees to share a job
  • Employee Assistance Programs: supporting employees to get third-party help
  • Allowing an employee to bank hours for later
  • Allowing employees to complete personal tasks during work time, with expectation of finishing work tasks as well
  • Respect family life: include family in some company events
  • Assist in provision of child care – subsidize or provide low cost care
  • Offer Family leave: this can be paid or unpaid
  • Compressed work weeks: work more hours per day for less days per week
  • Work from home (Telecommuting)
  • Fitness options: providing time off or fee subsidies for fitness programs

To set up a work and life balance program, you need training and education. Employees can attend training sessions which can be outsourced to another company, or they can avail of online courses.

When employee stress is reduced it results in higher productivity. Lower stress means happier workers and less leave time, which turns into reduced costs.