Work life balance is described as the combination of work and being able to spend time with family and friends and doing what you love. In the 21st century, there is a desire for firms to offer a healthy work life balance for their staff, particularly for those with long hours, small children and people they have to care for.
Currently there are 2.5 million people in the UK who work full time and also have to look after their parents and children. These people are typically over 30 and have become known as the ‘sandwich generation’, stuck between their children and parents and responsible for caring for everyone, whilst managing a full-time job of at least 40 hours per week. Unless there are sufficient work life balance strategies in their lives, the extra responsibilities can lead to stress, mental health issues, early aging and sickness.
Why do employers need to offer a work life balance?
Companies have started to show more and more interest into work life balance over the last three decades, especially as more working parents have been entering the workplace. By offering work life policies within the company, the organisation is able to create a healthy and happy workforce – allowing people to work hard, earn well and still enjoy time with their loved ones. Overall, this creates a more loyal workforce and one that is more productive.
In addition, the opportunity to allow people a work life balance such as working part-time or coming in later once they have dropped off their kids, has allowed firms to get access to the best staff possible. Those parents that were previously inaccessible or unable to work due to having small children can find ways to work around their responsibilities effectively.
How can firms offer a work life balance?
One of the most essential things that companies can offer is flexible hours to those with small children or parents to care for. This means having the flexibility to start work at 10am instead of 9am and/or leave earlier, giving the employee enough time to take their kids to school in the morning. Also, being able to leave earlier than usual to pick up their children from school.
Employers can provide a certain number of contract hours per month e.g 40 hours. The contract requires the individual to complete these hours but that does not mean that they necessarily have to be completed between the hours of 9 to 5. Hence, the employee can make up the hours in the morning, evenings or weekends, even if it means working remotely.
The notion of flexible working means that the employer has to act in a reasonable manner and have an environment where workers can speak to their managers or HR team openly and request time-off for school events, medical appointments and more. A system in place for handling requests and appealing them allows flexible hours to be formalised and managed effectively.
Working from home
A vital part of flexible hours is the ability for busy workers to continue working from home. With the use of the Internet, it has never been easier to work from home, also known as ‘teleworking.’ The organisation can cater for this by offering a laptop to the employee already loaded with software and a VPN connection so that they access all their files from work.
Whilst productivity at home is not something that is easy for companies to monitor, it is always worth putting targets in place and having regular reviews to ensure that the work is completely on time and the home environment is a safe and satisfactory place to work. One hopes that the individual is still able to maintain standards whether it is working earlier in the morning or later at night once the children have gone to bed or they have dealt with their other family commitments
Creche and nanny facilities
Some larger organisations are able to provide creche facilities and nannies on hand to look after small children during the day. This sometimes comes with a cost or is included in the worker’s package. The play areas are like mini nurseries and include professional staff to look after your children whilst you work.
A way that companies can show that they value your time with your children is by providing childcare vouchers. This can help pay towards anything you use for your child including nannies, nurseries, clothes and food.
Employers can offer these vouchers through a government scheme and it allows individuals to claim up to £55 per week depending on their salary and when they joined. However, using the scheme may affect any tax credits that you get so you may have to check whether you will still be better off using them.
Companies can offer health insurance or cash plans to their staff as part of their work life balance. This is an additional perk because a lot of business schemes automatically cover children and toddlers too. With a private healthcare policy, it means that workers can get faster access to appointments and consultants for any illnesses relating to them or their children.
Your staff will appreciate the opportunity to get access to quick treatment that they don’t have to pay for. Plus, it means that they do not have to wait long for appointments via the NHS and can go to a clinic closest to their home or work (provided the clinic is authorised by the healthcare provider). This allows them to attend to their health or their children’s health quicker and still maximise their time and productivity at work.
Work life balance is not necessarily reserved for busy parents and those that care for others. Even individuals that are prone to long hours in manual jobs or in front of a desk, need to have a work life balance. There are now companies that specialise in offering employee perks and offer workers free gym memberships, tickets to the theatre and discounts off their holidays. Employers can offer basic perks and increase these based on hitting targets or being promoted.
At Uncle Buck, we are a short term loans lender who care about our staff. We have become an established business in our industry since setting up in 2004. We are always looking for good staff to join our team. For more information, visit our careers page.