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Providing a good work-life balance is crucial to the happiness and wellbeing of employees, and employers who prioritise it can also benefit from improved productivity.

The positive connections between improved mental health and providing a fulfilling work environment has led many to trumpet the benefits of work-life balance for employees and challenge employers to do more.

Workplace burnout and absence of work-life balance are the two key causes of poor mental health among employees in the UAE’s private sector, according to a report by the Business for WellBeing Council.

AMFM Treatment, a firm that treats mental health patients, has also linked poor work-life balance with poor mental health and reduced productivity. 

It is not surprising then that as the global focus on mental health increases, there has been increased discussion about the importance of work-life balance. For example, 47% of employees now consider a good work-life balance a key requirement in selecting their employer while 69% of them want more flexible schedules, according to data reported by Team Stage, a task management software provider.

Yet, data reported by Team Stage also shows that 60% of employees blame their bosses for their lack of work-life balance. Related data reported by Zippia also shows that 67.2% of employees believe that some aspect of the work, the company’s culture, and their colleagues are the main culprits for their poor work-life balance.

The two data points above show that employers still bear most of the responsibility for ensuring healthy employee work-life balance in the workplace.

And the more employers know about the benefits of such work-life balance to their employees, and to them, the more they will be motivated to promote it.

In this article, we will highlight five key benefits of creating a better work-life balance for employees, some benefits for employers, and viable steps employers can take to achieve such a healthy work-life balance. We will cover:

  1. Five benefits of a healthy work-life balance to employees
  2. Benefits of healthy work-life balance to employers
  3. How employers can promote a better work-life balance

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  1. Five benefits of a healthy work-life balance to employees

So, what are the benefits of a healthy work-life balance to employees?

Here are five important ones to consider:

  1. Reduced stress and burnout

A study by Deloitte in the US has shown that 77% of employees experience workplace burnout. This burnout is the result of stress and it leads to lower quality of work.

Moreover, Baltimore Sun reported in 2018 that workplace stress is the 5th major cause of death in the US. And as we have seen in the introduction, workplace burnout is related to a lack of healthy work-life balance and it is a big cause of poor mental well-being.

According to Forbes, chronic stress is “one of the most common health issues in the workplace” and it can lead to physical conditions such as “hypertension, digestive troubles, chronic aches and pains and heart problems” as well as “negatively impact mental health because it’s linked to a higher risk of depression, anxiety and insomnia.” Financially, it also costs the US between $125 billion and $190 billion, according to the Harvard Business Review.

What then is the solution to stress, burnout, and their attendant consequences?

“Maintaining work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace,” continues Forbes. “By creating a work environment that prioritises work-life balance, employers can save money and maintain a healthier, more productive workforce.”

Sprigg HR, an HR technology firm, agrees: “Having a healthy work-life balance means that employees will be happier when they come to work. This, in turn, helps reduce stress and the chances of burnout, two common health issues in the workplace.”

  1. Improved physical and mental health

As we have seen above, stress and burnout are key causes of mental health problems. To take another example, a study published by Cambridge University has shown that the risk of depression and anxiety is 1.66 times and 1.74 times higher, respectively, in those who work 55 hours or more.

Consequently, a healthy work-life balance leads to improved mental wellbeing. 

“The human brain isn’t meant to feel stressed-out and under pressure all the time,” said Course Correction Coaching, a mental health improvement firm. “Creating more balance in your life gives you breathing space to think, which allows your subconscious thoughts to bubble up to the surface.  And that’s good for your mental health because it allows you to become more self-aware (around your beliefs and thoughts behind charged emotions) so that you can deal with them in a healthy way.  Which means: making better, more informed decisions.”

[For more on how to improve employees’ mental wellbeing, read “8 Ways to Effectively Manage Mental Health in the Workplace”]

But work-life balance is also related to physical health as much as mental health.

A study published in The Lancet Journal has shown that the risk of stroke in those who work for 55 hours or more every week is 1.3 times higher than those who work normal working hours. Medical News Today, a medical education platform, has also linked poor work-life balance with stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and myocardial infarction. 

Moreover, according to AMFM Treatment, a good work-life balance can “prevent chronic pain and hypertension, and digestive issues.”

  1. More happiness and job satisfaction

A healthy work-life balance can also lead to more happiness and job satisfaction.

Academic studies in Turkey and Pakistan have shown that work-life balance is positively correlated with happiness and job satisfaction. And a study by Sacred Heart University also concluded that, in the words of The Atlantic, “all over the world job satisfaction depends on a sense of accomplishment, recognition for a job well done, and work-life balance.”

For more on how to improve the happiness of your employees, read “15 Best Ways to Create a Happy Workplace for Your Employees”

One of the ways to keep employees happy is to ensure they are getting paid on time. In fact, they need their salaries to do other things outside of work that will make them happy.

Consequently, employers can greatly benefit by deploying an effective payroll management system that provides employees with free mobile bank accounts.

Do you want smart, effective, and low-cost payroll software that will help you manage your payroll in a way that keeps employees happy? Sign up for NOW Money or learn more about how we can improve your business.

 

  1. Higher engagement and productivity

Work engagement is a major problem in many workplaces.

According to Gallup, a polling firm in the US, 85% of employees worldwide are either not engaged or actively disengaged in the workplace. For Gallup, engagement is “the involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace.” Those who are not engaged are just passing time while those who are disengaged are “unhappy and unproductive at work and liable to spread negativity to coworkers.”

The negative consequences of lack of engagement or disengagement include absenteeism, lower productivity, and less creativity.

A healthy work-life balance can turn this tide and result in a more engaged workforce.

A study published on Research Gate has shown that by improving life satisfaction, work-life balance can improve job engagement. “With an increasing work-life balance, life satisfaction increases, which leads to a higher work engagement. Positive experiences therefore lead to a work-life balance, which in turn leads to a life satisfaction that is reflected in a higher  work engagement.”

Work-life balance also increases productivity.

“With a healthy work-life balance, mental health and well-being will improve,” said Onrec, an online recruitment resource. “Employee productivity will rise when absenteeism, loss of concentration, and poor decision-making owing to poor mental health decreases.”

In agreement, data collected by Toner Buzz, a toner retailer in the US, has also shown that 85% of companies with work-life programs report increased productivity. And a similar study in the UAE by Monster Gulf, a recruitment company, showed that 90% of UAE employees believe that work-life balance affects their productivity. 

  1. Better personal and professional growth

Employees with a healthy work-life balance can also dedicate more time to their personal and professional growth.

Course Correction Coaching, quoted above, believes that “balance is about feeling good about yourself and being in control of your life and career path” and that with such control “you’ll have more ability for success in both your personal and professional life.”

In essence, with less stress and burnout, employees can both have the time and mental frame to chart a path for their career growth, as well as achieve other important goals in other areas of their lives. 

  1. Benefits of healthy work-life balance to employers

Though employees are the primary recipient of the benefits of a healthy work-life balance, there are important advantages that also accrue to employers.

In essence, a healthy, happy, satisfied, engaged, productive, and growing workforce is good for the employer.

Below are the top corporate benefits:

  1. Attractiveness in the job market

Creating a healthy work-life balance for employees can make a firm more attractive to job seekers.

As we saw above, 47% of employees now consider the presence of a healthy work-life balance before taking a job.

Similarly, a recent study by Randstand, a global HR services provider, has shown that work-life balance is more important to employees than salary in Hong Kong. Hudson, a research firm, and BMW Group already noticed this trend in Australia (2015) and the UAE (2014), respectively.

As the job market becomes more competitive, provision of a healthy work-life balance can become a top unique selling point (USP) to attract top talent.

  1. Higher retention

Closely related to the above is higher staff retention (and lower staff turnover) in companies.

“If your employees are happy and feel satisfied in their role, they are less likely to search for employment elsewhere,” said Future Learn, a skills development firm. “This saves time and money spent hiring and training new staff, especially in highly technical fields where the onboarding and training periods can take months.”

Staff turnover is not just expensive, it can also undermine company culture as a firm in urgent need of staff can begin to compromise on its standards to fill up vacancies.

In agreement with Future Learn, data reported by Zippia also shows that 89% of companies reported improved employee retention after implementing healthy work-life balance policies. 

  1. Improved business performance

Happy, healthy, satisfied, productive, engaged, and growing employees are correlated with improved business performance. And there are many statistics to back this up.

To mention just two: companies with happy employees outperform competition by 20% and 70% of executives believe that an actively engaged workforce is critical to their success.

“People will work harder and do better if they feel satisfied in their job,” according to Future Learn. “This can feed directly into your productivity and profits, by building better working relationships with clients, for example.”

  1. Positive work culture

A healthy work-life balance can also create a work culture of happy, healthy, satisfied, productive, engaged, and growing employees.

Such work culture is also an important factor in today’s job market. “Workplace culture is important because it links company culture with things like employee engagement, happiness, productivity, retention rate and positive recruitment efforts and more,” according to Invista Performs, a business performance solutions provider. “Workplace culture can be just as important as your overall business strategy because it can either bolster or erode your organisation and your long-term objectives.

In essence, a healthy work-balance and positive work culture reinforce one another. The more of one a company has, the more of the other it gets.

  1. How employers can achieve work-life balance

Though employees can improve their work-life balance through various time management strategies, as we have seen, the bulk of the responsibility still falls on employers.

Now that we have considered the benefits of good work-life balance for employees, let’s highlight some of the concrete steps employers can take to improve it:

  1. Flexible work options

Zippia has reported that about 90% of employees believe a flexible work schedule will increase their morale and make them more productive. 79% of respondents to a Flex Job survey also believe that a flexible job will improve their work-life balance.

Flexible work options can take various forms, including allowing an option to work from home for a number of workdays, flexible working hours (allowing employees to leave earlier if they finish their day’s work earlier than the closing time), implementing childcare policies beneficial to nursing mothers, and part-time work, among others.

Some companies in the UK and Europe are already trialling or adopting a four-day work week. View Sonic also has a list of more flexible work arrangements that employers can consider.

Whatever arrangement an employer adopts, the key point is to try and provide more flexibility. The pandemic has shown these flexible work arrangements are not necessarily detrimental to productivity.

  1. Paid leave

In the UAE, employees are entitled to a 30-day annual paid leave, as well as other paid and partially-paid leave.

Employers who value work-life balance must adhere to these regulations and provide the necessary leave, as well as encourage employees to actually make use of these opportunities to unwind and do other things that make them happy in their personal life.

But you can definitely go beyond the legal requirements and even provide more time off work for your employees. According to the Entrepreneur magazine, “Asana offers 16 weeks of paid parental leave, flexible PTO, and a four-year sabbatical program.” Employers should consider the uniqueness of their business model and the needs of their employees in making these decisions.

“A break from work will provide you with the chance to switch off and enjoy yourself, it is also a great opportunity to recuperate and recharge,” said The Happiness Index, a firm dedicated to improving happiness and engagement at workplaces.

“This is essential to help your people improve productivity and focus when they return to the office.”

  1. Promoting healthy habits

A healthy work-life balance should begin in the four walls of the company itself.

Below are some healthy habits and wellness programs that a company can promote to create this balance:

  • Break from screen time: Taking some breaks from screen time at intervals can improve physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Providing lunch: Ensuring that employees eat well when they are in the office can also help improve their physical and mental health. These perks have become more important in the workplace.
  • Gym memberships: Employers can also encourage employees to exercise and relax by offering to pay for their gym memberships.
  • Health and wellness training: They can also organise physical and mental healthcare training that will equip employees with the information they need to improve their work-life balance.
  • Team bonding: Employers can also organise fun team-building events that will help employees take time off work and get to know and enjoy each other’s company outside the rigours of deadlines and reports.
  • Games room: Some companies also have rooms where people can go and play some games when they are not actively engaged. This can help them to relax and renew their strength for any subsequent work, as well as create friendships in the office.
  • Health insurance: Employers can provide quality health insurance schemes that will meet the important health needs of their employees.

Moreover, there are many other wellbeing initiatives that employers can choose from.

  1. Communicate with employees

The most important point is that employers must talk with employees.

Instead of assuming what they will need, it’s better to ask them what they actually need. Therefore, when designing work options or wellness programs, employees must be actively involved.

Relatedly, human resources managers must develop the emotional ability to recognise when a worker is unhappy or showing signs of stress and burnout. Discovering such situations and responding well to them can improve the employee’s experience and prevent a costly breakdown.

One of the ways to keep employees happy is to ensure they are getting paid on time. In fact, they need their salaries to do other things outside of work that will make them happy.

Consequently, employers can greatly benefit by deploying an effective payroll management system that provides employees with free mobile bank accounts.

Do you want smart, effective, and low-cost payroll software that will help you manage your payroll in a way that keeps employees happy? Sign up for NOW Money or learn more about how we can improve your business.

Takeaways

  • The link between work-life balance and mental health has made the former incredibly important to workers.

  • Improved work-life balance can lead to happy, satisfied, healthy, engaged, productive and growing workforce.

  • Employers also benefit from a healthy work-life balance of workers: attractiveness in the job market, higher staff retention, improved business performance, and positive work culture.

  • Employers can take many positive steps to attain better work-life balance for their benefit and that of their employees.