France’s Labour Minister is a worried man – not because of the global economy but because he has realized that French workers are at “psychosocial risks” from a ceaseless communication cycle. And he is mulling to change this – among a host of new reforms which are designed to loosen the strict acts in the country’s labour market, the Minister is reportedly including a provision that would give employees the right to ignore professional emails and other messages when not at work or after work hours. This would, according to El Khomri will make a difference in the work-life balance.
However, India Inc is no stranger to this work habit – working from home late hours and also on weekends is part and parcel of any executive. Needless to say, professionals have taken this to be as ‘normal’ when they join work (be it a fresher or even experienced). According to the Indian Labour Law, the maximum working hours cannot be more than 48 hours in a week (Sec 51). The maximum daily working hours cannot be more than 9 hours (sec 54).
But taking the leaf out of the reform idea of the French Minister, is it possible for India Inc to disconnect from work emails/phones after office hours? Not many will agree, but there are companies in India which have been giving its employees the best work-life balance. In 2015, in the best places to work survey, Google India was toppled by RMSI, a global IT services company which was the number 1 company to work for. The culture of the company, the leadership and the company policies are the main reasons why employees prefer to work in these firms. Employees now look for a harmonious work culture and that is even more important than high salary package. Godrej Consumer Products, American Express, Google, SAP India are some of the companies which ranked in the top 10 best places to work survey.
The French Minister is not the one who had this idea. Rather he apparently fleeced this idea from a report by Bruno Mettling, a director general in charge of HR at Orange, the telecommunications giant. Mettling believes this policy would benefit employers as much as their employees, whom, he has said, are likely to suffer "psychosocial risks" from a ceaseless communication cycle. As reported in Le Monde, a recent study found than approximately 3.2 million French workers are at risk of "burning out," defined as a combination of physical exhaustion and emotional anxiety.
When dealing with human workforce, it is essential that companies need to have that emotional connect with them. Giving them certain benefits like work from home to parking slots for pregnant women workers are great ways to have happy staff. Just like in life, when everyday is not the same, at work this logic applies as well. An employee might have to some days work overtime to finish an urgent project which is capable of saving a lot of unnecessary expenditure. But if this becomes a norm, the company needs to evaluate its culture and the employee also needs to evaluate what is making him stay for that long.
India’s economy is not stagnant like that of France. France’s unemployment rate is nearly 10.6% which is near an all-time high. To continue with the progress that India is undergoing contrary to a lot many other economies in the world, it is imperative for companies in the country to offer a solution like disconnection from work after work hours. If these 10 companies can offer work-life balance to their employees without hurting their business topline, it is not impossible for other companies to do the same – they just need to figure out how!
Some companies in France and others have this rule in place, but Mettling insists that many more should. As he told Europe1 Radio: "Professionals who find the right balance between private and work life perform far better in their job than those who arrive shattered."