Juggling the demands of work and life has never been as challenging as it is today. The desegregation of gender roles and increasing emphasis on the importance of having “me-time” has given rise to a new generation of employees willing to take pay cuts, forgo promotions and even move cities in an attempt to balance their lives.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for employers. There is plenty of research to suggest that excessive work can lead to a drop in employee productivity. The good news is that many companies are now recognizing the benefits of work-life balance and trying to promote it in their organizations. Globally, companies like Colgate, Philips and Google are known to actively promote work-life balance.
So how can you determine whether your company is on the same page as you regarding their outlook towards work and play? Always check an organization’s policies regarding:
Flexitime Many companies are allowing their employees to choose when they want to come to office and leave -- as long as they put in the required number of hours at work. Yet other companies allow their employees to work from home on certain days of the week. Flexitime arrangements allow workers to take better charge of their lives. If your company has a flexitime policy, it most certainly believes in the merits of a good work-life balance.
VacationsDoes your company encourage its employees to go on earned holidays or does it view vacations as something of a privilege rather than an entitlement? The manner in which the management reacts to your leave application will tell you a great deal about how the company views work-life balance.
Dependent careMany companies have crèches or have arrangements in place for the children of employees. This allows parents to work free of any worry or anxiety, secure in the knowledge that their child is just a few floors away. Whether your company has a dependent care policy or not is yet another measure of its attitude towards work-life balance.
Limiting overtime and taking work homeIf your company expects you to take work home regularly, it should raise a red flag in your head. Companies that encourage good work-life balance would want their employees to finish their work during office hours. These companies also understand the perils of overworking their employees and generally discourage overtime. Of course, there will be days when employees will be expected to put in late nights or work weekends, but in companies that respect the idea of good work-life balance, this is the exception rather than the norm.
Unpaid leaveThis is a crucial factor in determining whether an organization truly believes in work-life balance. Since no employee wants to lose out on his salary, unpaid leave is usually taken only in extraordinary circumstances. That would include medical emergencies, family commitments, legal appointments, etc. Being open and understanding to the idea of unpaid leave is a good marker of a company’s faith in the concept of work-life balance.
Replying to phone calls and emailDoes your boss call you at odd hours of the day or during weekends and vacations expecting you to answer? Advances in IT and telephony have meant that anyone can be reached anywhere with the click of a button -- which in turn has merged office hours and personal time. If the company you work for encourages this sort of contact habitually, it’s time to read the writing on the wall.
Employees today consider it important that they be able to manage their family commitments and personal interests in conjunction with their professional lives. Which is why it’s important to scout for an organization the shares the same view on work-life balance. Make sure you are both on the same page before joining a new place. Knowing that the management has shown sincere interest in you as a person, not just an employee, will keep you happy, engaged and more productive at work.