One of the most sought-after characteristics of today's jobs is work-life integration. Even though the pandemic allowed several people to work from home, which many people found quite convenient, keeping a healthy balance has become even more difficult when working remotely. The abrupt shift to remote work has certainly erased the physical and psychological barriers between home and workplace. Now that working from home is either mandated or at least optional at many organizations, many are reconsidering their feelings about what was once considered the best way to do your job.
This is where the importance of work-life integration comes in. Gone are the days when people used to call it work-life balance. Today, especially in the remote working scenario, the term work-life balance incorrectly implies a separation between work and life. It also suggests competition between both elements. In contrast, work-life integration is an approach that aims to create more synergies between different areas of life, including work, family, friendships, well-being, community, health, etc.
With fewer physical and mental barriers between home and professional life, many people are finding it increasingly challenging to strike a healthy balance, and this is directly reflected in their job efficiency and productivity as well. Thankfully, employers who want to enhance their employees' work-life integration have a lot of options today. There are various reasons for HR to focus on work-life integration at the firm, whether they want to boost retention, avoid employee burnout, improve employee health, reduce absenteeism, or increase productivity. Here’s how HR can help out.
8 ways How HR can support employees’ work-life integration :
Flexibility in working hours
The freedom to plan their own schedule and achieve flexibility is one of the reasons why so many individuals have become enamored with the concept of working from home. In fact, one of the most sought-after employee benefits right now is the ability to work flexible hours. Employees appreciate employers who give them the freedom to manage their own time. As a result, employers should take this into account and assist employees in striking a balance between home and work commitments.
Focus on output rather than input
Managers should be encouraged to focus on the completion of a task rather than the number of hours a person works. High productivity is not necessarily associated with increased working hours. In fact, some employees may not need the entire office hours to complete their work, they could get it done quicker than others.
Regular breaks and time off
Breaks in the workday should be encouraged since they might help to keep stress at bay. In fact, offering breaks may contribute to greater productivity, which means that employees will take less time to complete a task.
Employee wellness programs
HR can foster a healthier and more productive workplace by providing employees with the means and educational skills to take control of their health. With health-care expenses skyrocketing in many areas of the world, a well-executed wellness program may help employers save money on healthcare expenditures, boost productivity, and retain employees.
Customized HR policies instead of a one-size-fits-all approach
With today's workforce, the one-size-fits-all approach to work arrangements and settings is losing appeal. Employees today favor flexibility and personalization more than anything else. HR should seek to create employee experiences that are meaningful and enjoyable for all, and the traditional standardization approach will not help achieve this.
Awareness programs on work-life integration and counseling services
The simple act of sharing information regarding work-life integration with employees can build a better culture in which employees take greater care to ensure that there is a balance between the various aspects of their lives. When struggling to strike a balance, all they might need is a little push to get started. Employees can benefit from HR's consultation services and initiatives that will help them work through the challenges of moving to a remote working arrangement. This assistance could be provided in various areas, including scheduling, time management, distraction control, organizing a workspace, etc.
Embrace asynchronous schedule
When teams operate remotely, the barriers between work and personal life are blurred. The simplest thing for HR to address this is giving team members the freedom to work when convenient for them rather than requiring them to adhere to a strict 9-to-5 schedule.
Employees must be able to communicate across all platforms to integrate their work and personal lives. This includes clear communication from the executive level through department heads and managers and between team members. More often than not, workplace failures are caused by a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication. HR can make up for the lack of communication during remote working by using collaboration tools and growing the employee network beyond the scope of work.
Conclusion: Employee well-being for the win
According to the World Health Organization, depression affects about 264 million individuals globally. Thus it's safe to presume that at least a few employees in practically every organization suffer from depression. More often than not, social stigmas, a lack of understanding, work constraints, or a lack of familiarity with treatment choices have led many people not to seek therapy for depression.
Certainly, Covid-19 and the subsequent work-from-home culture have had a major impact on the lives of all people. And the financial troubles and job insecurity bought forward by the pandemic have added to the mental well-being of many. A flexible schedule or few employee perks may just not be enough. Rather, expressing empathy towards employees and their problems is crucial.
Given how employee wellbeing is directly tied to employee engagement and productivity, concentrating on employee well-being certainly offers under-appreciated benefits for organizations that they should seek to identify, prioritize and implement.