Achieving a healthy work-life balance

  Trumpet| CPD | 01 October 2018

IOSH work-life balanceNational Work-Life Week starts today in the UK. Ruth Wilkinson, IOSH’s Head of Health and Safety, provides five top tips for how businesses can ensure workers have a good work-life balance.

1. Management buy-in

Workers at all levels have both work and life issues that co-exist and sometimes compete – nobody goes to work and simply forgets about what is happening in their home life, especially during difficult times such as illness or bereavement or happier times such as the arrival of a baby. Unhappy or exhausted workers are unproductive and, if not given reasonable flexibility in their hour of need, may soon be looking for another job or taking sick leave.

It is crucial that senior management recognises this and commits to embedding and promoting a positive work-life balance strategy within their organisation. This will help to drive a positive work culture which will ultimately reap benefits such as increased productivity, morale and loyalty as well as reduced absence and turnover of staff.

2. Implement change

Once the strategy is set, it needs to be implemented throughout the organisation. This could include flexible working arrangements, annualised hours for workers who work outside standard business hours, employee assistance programmes, providing adequate resource and ensuring that demands on workers’ time are reasonable.

3. Upskill line managers

Line managers are on the organisation’s front line when it comes to tackling work-life balance issues. As such, it is vital to train them to deal fairly and appropriately with such issues as per the organisation’s policies. Training on how to recognise and manage physical and mental health issues is also vital as early recognition helps to prevent bigger problems later.

4. Enable self-help for workers

Workers also have a part to play by taking personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing both in and out of work. The Mental Health Foundation has some guidance. For example, workers can plot their own personal time and prioritise accordingly to find a good balance. They can also ask for help or raise concerns to employers or a GP where necessary. Employers can support this by providing the systems and information, guidance and awareness.

5. Tackle "always on"

Many workers are subject to an ‘always on’ culture enabled by constant remote access to work emails, social media and systems via laptop, smartphone and tablets. While constant access can be positive for both worker and employer by enabling flexibility, it can also be negative in terms of impact to sleep quality, stress levels and family life. It is important for the worker to be able to manage their time appropriately and work around their home life as needed. Honest and open discussions around work expectations and boundaries are vital.

Thanks for reading Connect, and if you have any stories to tell or opinions to share, please email connect@iosh.com.

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