For all employees (including teachers, managers etc.), the goal of achieving a work-life balance always seems to be something of which we’re always aspiring towards. If you put in 60 hours a week in your job, or even the routine 9-5 day, attaining that mythical work-life balance never appears to get realised. As you look around, you will see colleagues who seem to have their work-life balance sorted perfectly, but that’s where the problem is. Defining work-life is incredibly hard, and the reason for this is that the definition is very individualistic – what works for one member of staff would not be ideal for someone else.
Many schools and organisations are now focusing on their staff’s wellbeing, and this includes giving attention to a work-life balance but is these merely a well-intentioned sticking plaster to try and cure an incurable problem?
The idea of work-life combination is high on the agenda for many as more staff take aspects of their working life home with them. For staff, this can mean planning, report-writing, or firing up the laptop/tablet to track the progress of a project. For those who are well-disciplined to avoid doing these tasks at home, the impact on personal life can intrude when staff stay late after work, or start work whilst everyone else is still in bed. It’s a two-way process, and striking the balance is near impossible, so what can be done to address the issues around achieving a work-life balance?
Instead of worrying about work-life integration (which are personal and different for every member of staff) organisations need to focus on introducing flexibility where possible. Is there a reason that staff need to be on the premises all the time? If they have a gap in their timetable for an afternoon, let them work from home (if they want), or provide them with a luxurious comfortable space when they can work uninterrupted. The future of work is about giving staff the freedom to work whatever is best for them, so as long as the work is completed in a timely and professional manner, that is the main priority. If staff take Wednesday afternoon off and go to the gym, then celebrate this as recognition that your staff are taking their personal wellbeing seriously. If staff feel valued and respected, then the payback to your organisation is immeasurable.
Organisations that have given staff the freedoms and trust mentioned above have demonstrated great results with improved staff morale, retention, efficiency and motivation.
Instead of trying to find and enforce the elusive work-life balance, allow staff to create their own balance by giving them the freedom to do their best job. Don’t fall into the trap of being one of those managers who wants to oversee everything that employees are doing. It’s all about giving staff the right tools and enabling them to do their jobs effectively. Set targets. Set deadlines. Share objectives. Share your vision. By letting go of a little control will allow your staff to personalise their work-life balance in a style that best suits them, providing positive results for everyone.