15 Ideas for Improving Work-Life Balance and Wellbeing

According to the Investors in People Wellbeing at Work survey over a quarter (29%) of those in full-time employment in the UK are unhappy in their job. More than one in five workers (23%) ‘pulled a sickie’ in the last year, and 6% did so more than five times. So what are possible solutions?
• 80% of people said they would feel more positive towards their employer if they offered better health and wellbeing benefits
• One in ten workers even stated that job satisfaction is or could be improved with complimentary fresh fruit (10%) in the office.

Understand existing attitudes

Uncover and record the attitudes and support currently available in your organisation, particularly amongst line managers. Identify views on flexible working and possible objections. This piece of work will strongly influence your eventual outcomes.

Consult your people

What would help your employees to balance career success with a positive personal life? Each company will be different in where it can improve and how operational needs can be balanced with greater flexibility. Early consultation is crucial to gain trust and get it right. Collect information through team feedback, surveys, focus groups and interviews.

Consolidated or annualised hours

Consolidated hours see normal full time hours worked over four days, instead of five, whilst annualised hours spread the contractual requirements across the whole year – allowing for more hours in busier periods and more time off during quieter months.

Job sharing or term-time contracts

Divide the responsibilities of one job between two people or introduce term-time only contracts. It might attract skilled parents who need to care for their children during school holiday periods. Pay can be averaged to 12 equal monthly instalments or paid only for time worked.

Flexitime and time in lieu

Flexible working is on the increase. Flexitime offers your people the chance to work ‘core’ hours. Outside of these, employees are then responsible for managing their workload in the hours of their choosing. It gives increased responsibility and freedom to the employee, whilst also helping them to balance their private and personal life effectively.

Working from home

Allowing staff to carry out their duties either wholly or partially from home can help them to manage their work and home commitments.

Childcare assistance

Help out employees with children by offering childcare vouchers to make it easier to manage work and family commitments. Having an on-site crèche that works around your employees’ hours is also a great way to reduce stress and time commitments for your people.

Employee assistance portals

Create online spaces or resources which provide access to stress counselling, worklife balance hints and tips, access to concierge services or advice on anything from finding schools to setting up dependent care.

Improve maternity provisions

Attract skilled female workers to your company by offering maternity provisions in excess of those required by law. Examples include higher pay whilst on leave, extended leave options and returner bonuses.

Occupational health facilities

Introduce a facility to carry out health checks and provide advice on health issues. This could be in-house or through a local provider.

Part of your plan

Taking work-life balance seriously and integrating it into your culture is crucial to its success. Include how a better work-life balance for employees benefits both individuals and the company in your business plan. It sends out the right message to your senior team, board, partners and investors.

Involve your managers

Demonstrate to managers how flexible working can enhance their team’s effectiveness. Ensure managers are trained in how to successfully implement and manage positive changes within their teams – it will require counselling, decisionmaking, evaluating, mentoring and communication skills.

Communicate your plan

You’ve spent time and effort developing solutions that meet the needs of your employees – so make sure they know how to apply for flexible working.

Keep it consistent – but individual

Consistency in your approach is key. That means ensuring everyone – from the CEO to the management team to workers on the shop floor – has the same access to a personalised plan to balance their work and personal lives. It doesn’t mean everyone’s solution will be the same. Care should be taken by managers to be fair in listening to each employee and helping them to introduce appropriate measures around the demands of their role.

Walk the walk

Make sure everyone is seen to be striving for a healthy work-life balance. If managers stay in the office until 8pm every evening and take no time off to balance, they are not setting a good example for others to follow.

Manage concerns and build ongoing support

Managers must be encouraged to carefully plan flexible working so the team as a whole are not disadvantaged. Provide technical support and an open door for discussions of concerns and problems. Work-life balance options should be protected as part of the normal working culture for everyone and not the prerogative of only some groups.