In the ever-evolving world of work, one thing stands out clearly: people's desire for a healthy work-life balance has never been stronger. In 2021, a survey of over 9,000 UK workers revealed that 65% of job seekers prioritise work-life balance over pay and benefits. This sentiment resonates in the United States as well, where 63% of respondents in the FlexJobs 2022 Career Pulse Survey expressed a preference for work-life balance over higher pay.
The importance of work-life balance becomes even more pronounced during the festive season. Working parents, who often have to leave their children behind, long for additional moments of peace and the opportunity not only to celebrate but also to pass down traditions and culture to their kids. Newlywed couples also cherish this time of year to reunite and share their traditions with one another. All of this is possible only by having a reduced workload.
To gain more insights into this matter, we engaged with a company with a long-standing successful presence in India. One of the key reasons behind their success lies in their unwavering commitment to putting their employees first. Suman Kumar Ghosh, CHRO of Bajaj Electricals Limited, shared their approach during the festive season. They prioritise not only illuminating consumer homes but also the lives of their employees. The company believes in promoting the holistic well-being of their employees throughout the year, recognising that work-life balance is not a seasonal, but an ongoing commitment.
Ghosh elaborated, "While celebrating the festive season, we reinforce our core principles by embracing programs that ensure our employees' social well-being. The festive season may lead to distractions given the fervour. To keep our workforce motivated, we engage in ‘FAB’ (Fun at Bajaj) and Fun Fridays initiatives, involving activities that help them relieve stress and foster stronger camaraderie with peers and colleagues that extend beyond work and their own teams. Additionally, we also credit a cash component to all employees, allowing them to allocate more resources towards quality time with their families."
The Importance of pre-planning
For organisations that find themselves scrambling during the festive season, it's essential to take proactive steps to mitigate workload and ensure a seamless balance between work and celebrations. Jacob Jesuroon, Senior Vice President and Head of Human Resources at Access Healthcare, shared insights from their experience in the BPO and IT industry serving the US healthcare market. A significant portion of their workforce follows the American calendar, observing holidays such as Thanksgiving, Labour Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day, which are typically working days in India.
Jesuroon stressed the importance of clear communication from the beginning, ensuring that regional Indian holidays not recognised by the American calendar are well understood. Additionally, he highlighted their strategies:
1. A proprietary technology platform: Access Healthcare utilises a proprietary technology platform called arc.in, which features people management modules with AI-enabled insights into staff requirements, team member availability, planned absences, and leave balance positions. This empowers managers with efficient workforce planning and minimises uncertainties, allowing managers to have a clear view of their teams before making delivery commitments. This approach significantly enhances client goodwill by preventing situations where committed deliverables cannot be met.
2. Clear compensation policies: The company has clear policies to ensure that any additional work put in by their employees is suitably compensated with overtime pay, holiday pay, and other bonuses. The opportunity to earn well above the actual pay package is an attractive proposition for many team members, and there is no compulsion to force anyone to work on holidays against their will.
3. Office celebrations: The company celebrates major festivals as a team in their delivery centres. By investing in creating meaningful experiences that enhance the spirit of celebration, the company ensures that their employees are well-engaged in the events they organise. This is a key aspect of the camaraderie that is evident in their work culture.
How to decrease the workload
To mitigate employee workload during the festive season, it's imperative to introduce measures that not only maintain productivity but also allow for a healthy work-life balance. Jays Chandy, Chief People Officer at CENSA, shared three impactful ways to decrease workload during festive celebrations:
1. Remote work flexibility: Offering employees the option to work from home can be a game-changer. Remote work empowers individuals to manage their schedules efficiently, enabling them to spend more time with their families while ensuring work tasks are fulfilled. This approach boosts morale and reduces the stress associated with traveling and balancing professional responsibilities.
2. Rescheduling and empowering decision-making: Companies can consider rescheduling internal reviews before or after the festive period to alleviate workload pressure. Implementing a central control team with the authority to make operational decisions streamlines the decision-making process, reducing unnecessary workload.
3. Family-inclusive events and activities: Organising events or activities that involve employees' families can effectively blur the line between work and personal life. By integrating families into celebratory events or activities, employees can enjoy the festive season without feeling overly burdened by work commitments. This approach fosters a sense of community and belonging, allowing individuals to relax and enjoy the festivities without compromising their work responsibilities.
Achieving a healthier work-life balance
While people managers work to create policies that support their workforce's growth and well-being, there are a few things employees can do to find more happiness in their work and personal lives. Aditya Narayan Mishra, MD and CEO of CIEL HR, shared three key strategies that HR can communicate to employees to achieve a healthier work-life balance:
1. Love what you do: Often, work-related stress is rooted in one's relationship with their work. Perspective about work determines how individuals handle deadlines, workload, stakeholder expectations, and their vision of their life in the coming years. Discovering a compelling purpose around one's work and the impact it has on society can transform the way work-related stress is managed.
2. Encourage regular breaks and self-care: Stress can be alleviated by emphasizing the importance of regular breaks for rest, rejuvenation, and improved focus during the workday. Promoting self-care activities like exercise, meditation, and spending quality time with loved ones can reduce stress and enhance overall work-life balance.
3. Encourage employee assistance programs (EAPs): These company-sponsored programs provide employees with confidential access to professional counselling and support for personal challenges, such as stress, mental health issues, and personal problems. Employers should provide access to confidential counselling and support programs to help employees deal with personal challenges, contributing to a healthier work-life balance.
Wishing you all a joyous and prosperous Diwali!