Setting up your business for sustained growth and being positioned to take advantage of newly available markets, requires a good management structure and the right skilled individuals. Yet, for any new business to achieve new growth goals, an intense level of hard work is normally required where your employees are expected to step up an extra gear. However, that intensity is having an adverse effect on those employees achieving a proper work-life balance. Raising concerns over long-term mental health issues.
According to a five-yearly research survey into skills and employment conducted by the universities of Oxford, Cardiff, and University College London, one-third of respondents admitted working at a high speed and, “…. more than 45% said the same for the requirement to work very hard and meet tight deadlines.”
The latest figures show that the UK is experiencing the lowest unemployment rates since the 70s, which is good news overall, but it also means that UK businesses have a wealth of skills and talent at their disposal. So how do businesses get the best out of their employees?
- Set up a structured plan to help them achieve their goals.
- Empower them with the rights tools to do the job.
- Provide regular performance assessments.
These are just a few of the basic steps that businesses should already have in place, and with the emergence of technology, correct use of people analytics can also be used to steer business decisions. Yet, getting the best out of your employees also means helping them to achieve an acceptable work-life balance.
Tania Garstang, Associate Director at Michael Page Human Resources said: “The most effective organisations place the highest value on their culture and that is driven by leadership. Just having the option to work flexibly isn’t enough, business leaders have to practice what they preach when it comes to their work intensity and balance. There will always be times throughout the year when intensity increases because the business requires it but sustainability and employee wellbeing is just as important when it comes to delivering consistent results and avoiding burn out.”
The recent promotion of mental health in the workplace has seen a shift towards more open and inclusive discussions around the subject. Pushing your employees to work at a constant high speed, will create more room for error and working harder and faster without the correct life balance, is a recipe for disaster. Such a high increase in work without an adequate balance, will have adverse effects on health, increasing levels of stress and anxiety. This could lead to poor financial wellbeing and other serious health concerns.
The survey also reported that 15% of men and 25% of women were employed in jobs that required them to work hard, but in which they had little control and this pattern transcends multiple industries. Collectively, organisations need to harbour more flexible working approaches for their employees, if they haven’t done so already.
Speaking last year at our Generation FL-X breakfast seminar, Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and author of the Taylor Review said: “Flexible working stands us in good stead for the future,” and he opined, adding this approach helps people bring their “whole selves” to work.
Tania added: “As a business leader, if you are consistently responding to emails whilst on leave, what expectation are you setting for your team? When PageGroup implemented our Dynamic Working Charter, it was imperative that the leadership team championed the importance of balance almost to the point of exaggeration in order to embed agile working into our culture. For me personally, that meant coming in later after a morning yoga class or leaving that little bit earlier to be able to have a long walk with my dog and ensuring that my team saw me doing it, all the while being able to still deliver results.”
When considering how to drive employee performance, it stands to reason that if your employees arrive for work energised, then there’s a better chance that high levels of productivity for the business can be maintained. A better work-life balance will minimise mental health issues and lead to prolonged increases in productivity and profit.