British workers spend more hours toiling than almost all of our northern European counterparts. So it comes as no surprise that work-life balance has become a hot topic in the UK. And with a constant barrage of negative statistics like “a quarter of professionals are dissatisfied with their work-life balance’, it really is time for employers to step up their game. In this article, we’ll talk about the importance of a healthy work-life balance and how it affects employees and businesses.
Most of us are pretty clear on what work-life balance means: the division of our time and focus between working and family or leisure activities. But many of us don’t know how Britain’s current work-life climate is affecting workers and businesses. With an ever-growing body of research to back it up, a poor balance harms productivity, the economy and can have a negative impact on our health.
Have we all become workaholics?
There’s strong evidence that more flexible work arrangements and time off makes people healthier and happier. We’re not just talking about feeling less drained - long hour work weeks increase your risk of having a stroke, heart disease, and Type-2 diabetes. Serious stuff! Working fewer hours gives employees more time to do what they love with family and friends. It also frees up time to relax and get your creative juices flowing.
Overworking doesn’t just harm your heart or pancreas, your mind suffers too. Cognitive skills like short-term memory and vocabulary all deteriorate. As well as mental illnesses, like depression and dementia.
Understandably though, employees can be reluctant to dial back on hours in our competitive work culture. With one in four British workers feeling that unpaid overtime is a fact of life, and more than one in ten working late for fear of losing their job if they don’t put in the extra time.
Be like the Germans
Employee health and well-being should be in the best interest of any business, especially when work related stress already costs the UK 10.4 million working days per year, amounting to nearly £6.5 billion a year! Clearly, a positive impact on health would be a cost-saver to businesses and the economy as a whole.
Productivity takes a huge hit too. People have been falsely assuming that more hours worked means higher productivity for decades. We now know that is not always the case. For example, Greeks are some of the hardest working in Europe, logging in over 2,000 hours a year on average. The Germans, comparatively, are slackers, putting in about 1,400 hours per year. Yet German productivity is 70% higher! Talk about German efficiency, right?
When a business makes an effort to improve the work-life balance, in return it gains respect and loyalty. Showing that you care about your employee’s time and health can go a long way. What you give, you will get back tenfold! Another benefit is a boost in reputation. Today, landing on a list of Top 20 companies for work-life balance is the holy grail for a business. In the long-term, your business will attract better quality workers. Particularly with millennials placing work-life balance above career progression, and with 48% of millennial fathers preferring to take a pay cut to achieve a better balance.
Bringing life to work
Work-life balance isn’t just achieved through reduced hours or flexibility. Employers can essentially add more “life’ to work. There are many people who appreciate the structure of a 5-day work week. What they might be lacking is something exciting to break up their work day. Company perks can make a world of difference to employees. Something as simple as a manicure at lunch time on the house can make employees feel valued. It’s a treat that can interrupt a monotonous schedule of meetings. It’s a pamper session that replaces the typical rushed lunch at the desk while replying emails. A half hour to relax and take your mind off work obligations leaves employees feeling more productive and completely refreshed. Book your bespoke package with LeSalon here.
The grand balancing act
With our workers’ wellbeing, economy and long-term productivity at stake, it’s fair to say that the issue of work-life balance is an important one. Clearly, a better balance benefits both businesses and their employees - increased productivity, health benefits, creativity and happier staff. What’s to lose?
Interested in workplace wellness? Read our post on How a pamper session can really benefit my business. You might also be interested in our blog post on The Secret to a Happy Office.