The changing shape of the working world has offered opportunities but also created challenges when it comes to employee satisfaction and a healthy work-life balance. On the one hand, this time has shown many businesses that more flexible ways of working are indeed possible, while on the other hand lines have become blurred between home-life and work-stress, making a healthy work-life balance harder for many employees to maintain.
The blending of work and home spaces can make ‘switching off’ difficult, the result of which is employees work well beyond their usual office hours – starting earlier and finishing later, for instance, or working on weekends.
Why is work-life balance important?
While this may seem, on the surface at least, that this imbalance in work-life behaviour for employees is beneficial to businesses by yielding greater productivity, however it can negatively impact your business and your reputation as an employer.
Furthermore, there’s little evidence to support that the greater number of hours spent working leads directly to greater productivity, in fact research often shows evidence to the contrary.
Work-life balance problems and solutions
Employee ‘burn out’ is a real and undesirable possibility, with the potential to negatively impact your finance and accounting team and future recruitment. Encouraging employees to maintain healthy boundaries between work and personal space and time must be factored into any recruitment strategy.
Due to the nature of the work and the increasing pressures arising from Covid-19 specifically, many finance and accounting employees in particular are working longer hours and taking reduced number and length of breaks. This may lead to them suffering from:
Loss of professional self-esteem
With everyone working from home an easy and natural flow of communication is hugely disrupted, and this can lead to a very real worry for an employee over work performance and, crucially, perception of their work performance. This is exacerbated by concurrent economic uncertainty, where many are fearful for their job’s security regardless of their output. Working under that kind of stress can take a significant toll, which ironically then affects performance.
Employers must seek to assuage these potential problems and make employee wellbeing a fundamental part of their day-to-day proceedings and even recruitment strategy. Addressing the potential problems remote working can create head on and dealing with it effectively will impact your employees’ health, productivity and their attitude towards you.
Doing so will improve your company culture and your reputation as an employer, and therefore affect the calibre of talent you are able to attract.
3 work-life balance strategies for employers
Focus on productivity rather than hours
Even if it existed previously in the office, eradicate the focus on presenteeism and focus on output instead. Don’t micro-manage hours spent working but give employees the freedom to complete tasks and projects by a certain date, trusting them to work the hours they see fit. Avoid ‘testing’ attendance with pre-9am emails and so on. Ask what times for meetings work for them, allowing for flexibility to support working parents.
Actively address and adjust workloads
Doing the above requires honest assessment of workloads amongst your team – is someone shouldering a greater share of the work? Analyse and adjust accordingly - if it’s evident some employees need to work greater hours then something isn’t right with the balance of workload, and this needs to be addressed.
Lead by example
The easiest way to make it clear you don’t expect employees to work beyond their contracted hours is to avoid doing it yourself, especially in ways that are visible. For instance, if you find yourself able to send a team meeting request at the end of the day or week, after you’ve completed your own vital tasks, consider diarising it to be sent during usual office hours.
It may just seem to you like a 7:40 am email is easy because you’re not distracted by other tasks, it could look as if you’re testing to see who will respond quickest to determine who is the most dedicated.
At Edward Mann, we would be happy to offer bespoke finance and accounting recruitment support to help you accommodate your remote working team’s mental health. With our database and deep networks, we source high-calibre candidates to suit the specific needs of your business goals to make sure you’re equipped for the future.