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A fantastic win for workers in the strive for work life balance

by Hannah Cottam | 19 March 2018

After the passing of a monumental bill earlier this week, employees in South Korea will see their working hours slashed from 68 to 52 per week when the law comes into force in July. 

Chung Hyun-back, the gender equality and family minister, has been a key driving force behind this amendment in legislation. She has hit back at the “inhumanely long” working hours, recognising the detrimental impact this has on employees’ work-life-balance. In Britain, the current working week is capped at 48 hours (unless employees choose to “opt out”) under the Working Time Regulations (1998), allowing employees to have a good standard of living outside of work. 

Work-life balance is now a key factor for jobseekers, with research by Working Families (2017) finding that “38 percent of fathers would be willing to take a pay cut to achieve a better work-life balance”. We are inundated with research demonstrating that a good work-life-balance is important for employees, but it also has vast benefits for organisations. These benefits include a happier workforce, reduction in conflict, increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and increased loyalty to the company.

With that in mind, organisations have the opportunity to become an employer of choice by really promoting a strong work-life-balance, and making this of integral importance to all employees. Some easily-implementable ways of doing this are by exploring the following options;

Look at the culture of the organisation – are people encouraged to regularly put extra hours in? To work late into the evening? Working extra hours does not always demonstrate commitment, it is often as a result of an unmanageable workload and it can quickly lead to you burning out.

Flexible working – do you allow your employees to work on a part-time basis? Do you offer flexible hours? Do you allow employees to work at locations which are easily commutable for them? It’s important to recognise that every employee has a different set of circumstances to accommodate- Some will have family requirements relating to childcare, lengthy commutes, or transport issues whereby they are unable to get into the office during rush hour. By making life easier for people, and adapting working arrangements around them where reasonable, you will generate loyalty and employees are more likely to feel valued.

Home working – is the organisation set up for remote working? Candidates I speak to have become accustomed to home-working, and many specify this as an essential requirement. Employees who occasionally work from home will often be more productive, as they strive to prove themselves, and appreciate the trust which has been granted to them. 

Switch off at home – obviously in some roles, particularly of a senior level or for those who work on an ‘on-call’ basis, there may be an element of taking work home with you. This is understandable when working on a project, however it should not become the norm. If employees are consistently checking their emails from home, or making work-related phone calls outside of working hours, it can blur the lines between work and home life, making it much harder to switch off, reducing overall productivity. 

When speaking with my clients, the vast majority are not only set up for the above, but they are actively encouraged. If your organisation currently falls behind in these areas, it is worth reviewing what you can offer to attract candidates who are seeking a better work-life balance.

I am interested to hear of what innovations your organisation has in place to encourage work-life balance. Please let me know in the comments box below. Alternatively you can view our latest roles and start your journey to a career with a better work/life balance.