Balancing act: Work-life balance guidance from Eluned Ward

Within the HR sector in the last few years there has been much focus on the health and wellbeing of employees within the workplace, with the introduction of wellbeing programmes and other initiatives so it was interesting to read the findings from the Overhauling a culture of ‘presenteeism’ at work, study from Rioch. The study found that 67 % of employees aged 18-26 had exaggerated the extent of their workload in the hope receiving positive feedback from managers, with 41% feeling that their bosses favoured those who worked beyond their contracted hours.

Whilst some employers may view it as a positive that employees are working over their contracted hours it could be a false economy in the long run, with employees being in work but not being productive or producing the best work, mistakes being made due to people working long hours, higher number of employees suffering from stress, attending work whilst ill, and high employee turnover as people look to have better work/life balance. The other important point is that companies have a duty of care towards their employees, and regardless of what wellbeing policies are place, if there is a culture of rewarding long hours it could result in claims at an employment tribunal if it impacts on a person’s health.
So what can companies do to stop presenteeism and encourage of a culture of work/life balance:
• Senior managers need to lead by example around working hours and encourage their direct reports not to put in excessive hours
• Provide support and training to managers to support employees that work long hours
• If employees are working long hours, establish why.
• Consider if there are smarter ways of working i.e. reduction of the number of meetings
• Consider if the traditional 9 to 5 way of working actual meets the needs of the company, its employees and its clients. Read what happened when one of our clients introduced a 6 hour working day
• Consider introducing a ban on work related emails being sent after working hours
• Encourage feedback from employees on workloads and processes to ensure the systems are efficient and do not increase workloads.
• Offer a range of flexible working options including part time working, compressed hours, job share, working from home and ensure employees understand their rights around flexible working.
• Consider how part time employees fit into the company and don’t overlook them for promotion or development
• If there is a wellbeing policy ensure it is well publicised and embedded into the culture of the company
• Manage clients expectations of response times and make it clear over the opening times of the company
• Record and monitor sickness records and employee turnover figures to help identify any areas where there may be an issue with excessive hours
If you want to discuss how your company can encourage a work/life balance and discourage presenteeism within the workplace please contact HPC for advice and guidance.

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