Discovery leadership masterclass series with Frank Adu Anim & Genevieve Pearl Duncan Obuobi (Dr.): Work-Life Balance

Leaders today understand that too much ego can be destructive and can have broad-ranging consequences for a team or a company.
Frank Adu ANIM & Dr. Genevieve Pearl Duncan OBUOBI (Dr)
  • the employee expectation, the role of the employer for higher productivity and increased efficiency at work.

As adults, most of our life is spent at work. The time we spend working far exceeds what we dedicate to any other activity: family, eating or simply relaxing. However, the impact of work on our lives goes far beyond time. It is for better or for worse, much of what we are shaped by is our professional environment and relationships.

Have you asked yourself about what causes you stress, unbalance or dissatisfaction? How are these circumstances affecting how you perform and engage with your job? And how are they impacting your personal life and job performance? What are you prioritising? What are you sacrificing and what is getting lost? Work-life balance, the equilibrium between personal life and career work remains critically essential around this time.

Today’s business environment presents dynamic culture, ethics and new sets of requirement and demand expectations both from the employer and the employee. Work-life balance among many pressing shifts for new working practices and systems have become one of the key issues faced by many employees all over the world. Maintaining work-life balance is an issue increasingly recognised as of strategic importance to organisations, and of significance to employees as well.

It is admitted that, when work takes precedence over everything else in the life of the employee, the desire to succeed professionally can push the employee to set aside his or her own well-being. In consequent, creating a harmonious work-life balance or work-life integration should remain critical to improving the physical, emotional and mental well-being of the employee.

The question however is, what does it take to free ourselves from these unhealthy patterns and reach a more sustainable, rewarding work-life balance? The feeling by majority of employees that their jobs are highly demanding, exhausting and chaotic, thereby affecting their lives; and the concern by most organisations to balance their role for employee well-being, and the expectations are more than ever a critical subject worth discussing.

The emphasis is that, the absence of work-life balance has an adverse effect on employee performance in many respects. To understand the implications of work-life balance on employee performance is to analyse the effects and the relative consequences and role of organisations for promoting and sustaining performance culture through the application of work-life balance practices and systems. Poor work-life balance, without doubt, leads to many negative implications among workers, and affect employers’s prospects for success in many respects as well.

Therefore, the successful integration of profession and retention of strong employees rely in huge part on how well a company meets employee expectations through a satisfying work-life balance principle. Let’s do work-life balance: the expectations of employees, the role of employers.

What Is Work-Life Balance?

It must be emphasised that the work-life balance concept may mean different things to different people because different employees have different life commitments. According to Chancey, work-life balance is more about having the flexibility to get things done in the employee’s professional life, while still having time and energy to enjoy his or her personal life. Work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritises the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.

The best work-life balance is different for each employee due to the differences in priorities and different lives. That notwithstanding, the core of an effective work-life balance are common issues which remain relevant, affecting or leading to poor performance at work. Notably, the cause for increased employee responsibilities at work, working for long hours, increased responsibilities at home, having children, among others contribute significantly to the unbalanced conditions of work and life.

Arguably, the absence from work affects performance negatively, therefore, the role of the employer to prudently enhance employee leave policies to ensure that all employees are covered with flexible work arrangements correlatively promotes positive performance and work output. The recommendation for more flexible work arrangements, coupled with robust welfare policies to address the welfare concerns of employees, remain crucial for employee well-being and the organisations’ productivity and results. This assertion is backed by the study that good welfare policies are crucial in any organization and the lack of it may lead to a decrease in employees’ performance.

Essentially, given the unpredictable circumstances, the often under-pressure workplace environment and the added blurring of lines between work and personal lives, how these affect personal lives and organisational objectives is the rational and the need for adoption, work-life balance policy framework to guide all organisations and employees. Because, a rational understanding of the decisions and priorities driving the employees’ life is important, but equally important is the emotional reflexivity to recognise how the situation is making the employee feel, and the impact they have on the organisations’ performance. In essence, the awareness of one’s emotional state pertaining to his work is essential to determining the changes the employee had to make regarding his work and life.

However, flexible work arrangements influence productivity, reduce stress, lower risk of burnout and a greater sense of well-being. Employers who are committed to providing environments that support work-life balance for their employees often save on costs, experience fewer cases of absenteeism, and enjoy a more loyal and productive workforce.

The Employee expectations:

Productive life happens in the workplace and the affective life in the home. Gaining balance in the employee’s professional and personal life can be challenging, but it’s essential. When employees have a clear understanding of what they can expect from their organisation, it contributes to higher employee morale. Higher morale results in a greater sense of unity, purpose and higher productivity.

The concern and expectations of most employees are expressed through the demand for flexible work arrangements, compensation and benefits, salary raises, learning and development opportunities, organisational culture, diversity and inclusion, employee relationships and digital employee experience.

The concern for employee well-being through the improvement of their potential to grow and the organisations investment in them to reach their dreams and career aspirations are considerable for guaranteeing greater performance, satisfaction and fulfilment.

The Role of the Organisation:

Employee performance in an organisation is often very important as it’s a key determinant in achieving organisational goals and objectives. For this reason, organisations explore various ways of motivating their workforce. Therefore, every policy in an organisation should be geared toward improving employees’ performance. This is because for an organisation to remain at the top of competitors, it should improve the performance of the workforce and monitor it; failure to which, an organisation becomes liable to face several challenges which hinder organisational performance.

According to an analysis by Gallup, the higher the employee’s engagement, the higher productivity levels. So how can HR professionals play a part in increasing employee engagement? The answer lies in managing employee expectations well. Strong management of employee expectations will reduce turnover and improve retention rates. Again, it is established by research that most employees leave their jobs because it did not align with their expectations. With increased transparency about the nature of a job, the demands, pressures and opportunities for progression, the likelihood of job dissatisfaction decreases.

Much more, engraining a fuller meaning of the role of the organisation in enforcing the work-life concept defines how the organisation should invest in their employees, increase in team engagement, support cross-functional engagements, and improve initiatives for this course. To that effect, organisations must create room for employees to learn new skills and see the interdependencies beyond their line of work, allocate resources to initiatives and create the right environment to grow.

Invest in employees’ mental health

The struggle with stress and anxiety, which affect work-life balance, must be given much priority. Employers should organise or conduct time and stress management workshops, monitor employee satisfaction and invest in professional psychological support. These actions will help create a psychological safety environment where every employee will feel well taken care of.

Equally important is physical exercise which has been proven to help employees become more productive. By investing in the health of employees, the organisation gets more productive employees in return. Implementing a more comprehensive health benefit policy for employees is beneficial at the long run. Therefore, organising occasional fitness classes, stress management workshops and exercises to promote both physical and mental disciplines of the employees is essential. It certainly produces a win-win situation.

 Expand the upskilling programmes

Creating more collaborations, learning and thinking space for employees help the organisation. The culture of learning, thinking and innovation within the organisation promotes the well-being of the employees for greater performance. The priority of holding internal workshops to empower employees to share ideas across functions, equip them with the right skill-set, the right mindset and the right attitude, will provide the enablement to exhibit full potential, reduce stress and impact performance.

Invest in training and development and create opportunities for collaboration

Building foundation, processes and bringing in new team-members, providing growth opportunities in a variety of functions in and out of individual roles, brings flexibility at work. Once there is flexibility and support structures to train and equip employees, they are less likely to go through work-related stress.

The need for Work-Life Balance for Employees

The need to have work-life balance is important. Its significant impact is immeasurably seen in the following:

Work Life-Balance Means Less Stress

The biggest problem is that most people think they have no choice. The truth is that, work life balance is ultimately created through the choices of the employee. By agreeing to take on more work when, in fact, there is no capacity to handle or no room for delegating work though, can create more stress for the employee. To avoid the nuances of stress and its related negative impact means to say no to things that are not prioritised, delegate when appropriate, choosing to do things which are priorities as well as prioritising the employees own well-being. The end result is a more manageable workload and more time doing the things that are important to the employee.

Work-Life Balance Improves Employee Mental Health

One of the biggest reasons why work-life balance is important relates to the mental health of the employee. When the employee feels balanced he or she is more capable of dealing with negative emotions and thoughts. The human brain isn’t meant to feel stressed-out and under pressure all the time. Creating more balance in your life gives you breathing space to think, which allows your subconscious thoughts to function well.  And that’s good for your mental health because it allows you to become more self-aware so that you can deal with them in a healthy way. Which means making better, more informed decisions.

In conclusion, it must be emphasised that, managing employee expectations through a work-life balance practice is a collective role of the organisation, creating a satisfying working conditions for the employee on one hand, and the commitment of the employee in meeting the objectives of the employer on the other hand. This collaborative efforts may improve employee retention, make employees happier, more productive and more fulfilled in their work. The results of high employee retention rate, organisational performance ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line.

Discovery….Thinking solutions, shaping visions.

Frank is the CEO and Strategic Partner of AQUABEV Investment and Discovery Consulting Group. He is an Executive Director and the Lead Coach in Leadership Development and best Business Management practices for Discovery Leadership Masterclass.

Dr. Obuobi is the Lead Consultant on Cx. Leadership & SME, Country Chair, Ladies in Business)

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