Do you value Performance over Over-time or Over-Time over Performance?

Richard Branson famously stated that “….If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”.  

If you rate performance over over-time and you want your employees to look after your clients the good news is you can have both and it doesn’t need to cost you a cent.  All you need to do is offer your employees an opportunity to improve their work/life balance.

53% of employment candidates state that work/life balance is a very important factor when considering whether to take on a new position and employees who feel they have a good work/life balance tend to be happier and perform 21% better than those who feel they don’t. So there are real benefits to reviewing whether your business offers work/life balance.

Here are some ways that other companies have found to offer work/life balance.  Before implementing these or any other concepts it would be best to discuss these with an HR professional to ensure you are still meeting all your legal employment obligations.

The 32 Hour Week
You may be familiar with the NZ company Perpetual Guardian and their successful trial of a 32-hour work week.

A test group had their working week reduced from 40 to 32 hours and they were still paid for 40 hours.  After the trial independent researchers reported the employees felt more energized during the experiment and as a result a 24% improvement in their work/life balance was achieved.

It was also discovered that the employees did the same amount of work in less time by streamlining their workflow with such changes as cutting two-hour meetings down to thirty minutes.

Work Smart and Go Home
Many employees feel they need to work overtime to demonstrate to their manager/employer that they are committed to their job and just as many feel they can’t meet the requirements of their job if they don’t work overtime each week.

Encourage and train your staff to modify their work habits to increase efficiency thereby empowering them to perform their functions in less time.  Management should lead by example and make this part of their work culture also to avoid individuals reverting to their old ways to “make a good impression” or to not stand out from the crowd.

Work at Work or Work Away
Time in the office is not an equal measure of productivity.  As long as people do their job well how about a trial allowing them to choose to split their time between the office and home or wherever else they feel they can work productively (of course this is not possible for every type of job).  Companies who offer this opportunity report a drop in staff turnover and an increase in customer satisfaction and financial performance due to the improved work/life balance of employees.

They also reported that 95% of new hires stated that the flexible work policy was a factor in making the decision to join the company.

Relax the Rules
Relaxing the rules has been known to increase a employees sense of loyalty to their jobs and improved job satisfaction.  Here are 3 ways you can do this.

Relax on what qualifies as a Sick Day. Allow staff to use these days for physical, mental, emotional or any other general health related day off and do so without requiring an explanation and without fear of reprisal.

Relax on what qualifies as bereavement leave.  For some people losing a pet is as painful as losing a loved human.  Allow staff to grieve for whomever and whatever they value.  Let’s face it, they are probably going to take the time off somehow anyway.

Relax with the clock watching.  Let your employees know that you trust them with their time management and if they need an extra 30 minutes to run an errand at lunchtime that this shouldn’t be a problem but to let management know.  Most employees will make up that time and more somewhere else in their working week anyway.

Take a chance and allow your employees to make choices without judgement.   

Sleep Mode

In 2017 France gave employees the legal ‘right to disconnect’ restricting the hours that emails can be sent and received by employees.

Consider implementing a “Sleep Mode” in the workplace by restricting emails and phone calls to the working day. Respecting your employees’ personal time will likely result in their elevated respect for their working hours e.g. by reducing time spent on social media or cooler water chat.