Last year, 12.6 million days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety or depression, while one in seven UK employees recently said they’re unhappy with their work-life balance. There’s no doubt that a lot of businesses could do a bit more to ensure their employees feel happy with their work-life balance and aren’t overly stressed.
With this in mind, four executives have come together to give their tips on how employers can improve employee work-life balance and wellbeing.
Liam Butler, AVP at SumTotal, discusses the need for executives to start talking more openly about mental health within the corporate environment to improve employee wellbeing:
“Despite increased focus and efforts, we are still a long way from regarding or treating mental and physiological health as the same. We need to help to reduce the secrecy and stigma surrounding mental health issues, encourage employees to step forward if they are having mental health problems and make employers reconsider their own attitudes to mental health related illnesses.
Organisations should take note of forward thinking attitudes when it comes to mental health – take Olark, a US-based tech company: one of its employees made a bold move to explain her absence from work by highlighting her own focus on mental health. Rather than the typical OOO email, Parker simply wrote, “I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.” The company’s CEO got involved. Not only did he praise her for setting such a noteworthy example, he thanked her for reminding him of the importance of using sick days for mental health and helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health.
Companies should put in place their own policies and training to support suffering employees, as well as raise mental health awareness. Ultimately, mental health needs to be brought out of the shadows and into the spotlight of the boardroom, so that executives can ensure their employees have access to the resources and support they need.”
Michel Spruijt, General Manager EMEA at Ergotron, discusses how employers can improve employee wellbeing through workplace design.
“It’s useful to think of the metabolism like a battery: movement charges the battery, inactivity drains it. So sitting to work for 8 hours during the day and draining our battery makes us feel less like doing beneficial activity outside the workplace, and more likely to make bad decisions with regards to our health. By changing workspaces to encourage movement throughout the day, our batteries are gradually charged and we are more likely to make healthier choices outside of work, which ultimately improves our quality of life and reduces our risk of health disorders.’
Steve Wainwright, Managing Director EMEA at Skillsoft, explains why organisations should offer their employees training that they can fit in as part of the working day – rather than taking additional hours or away days for learning opportunities:
“Work/life balance can be a tricky issue, especially for today’s mobile, always ‘on’ workforce. In the digital world, modern workers are time-pressed and distracted, meaning that classroom-based learning and away days have long since lost their relevance. Modern workers need learning and development tools that meet the demands of the modern workplace, as well as the instant, curated content delivery expectations set by social media and entertainment platforms like Netflix.
Forward thinking organisations are turning to intelligent eLearning solutions that provide employees with engaging, multi-modal content and tailored learning paths. This approach can meet each individual’s learning requirements and encourages people to fit learning into their working day when and where they can. Employees can decide when they learn, where they learn, and how they learn (choosing from eBooks, quizzes, or videos).”
Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint, discusses the benefits of allowing employees to work remotely, and offers three practical tips for employers on maintaining workplace productivity for a remote workforce:
“Many organisations encourage flexible working practices as a way of improving the employee experience. For many of us, work is no longer a destination, but something that can be done from any device, anywhere. Studies show this helps employees get more work done, lowers work-related stress levels, and helps them strike a better work life balance. Best of all, working remotely—even if just a day or two a week—means employees can avoid the dreaded commute! But while flexible working can help boost employee morale and productivity, this is only the case if the organisation ensures everyone has secure and reliable access to the business applications and data they need to be productive. Without this, overall productivity will be negatively impacted.
This is a task that falls on the IT team. In today’s modern workplace the IT department has to manage a corporate network that extends well beyond the traditional fixed location boundaries to span the Internet and connect smartphones, laptops and tablets for hundreds, if not thousands of remote workers.
Employees need access to a variety of applications and documents that live either in the cloud or at the corporate data centre. IT departments often are left scrambling to ensure that these employees are reliably and securely able to connect to the resources they need while keeping expenses, such as IT man-hours and network hardware, to a minimum.
Here are three approaches to securely extending the corporate network to employees working from home, a local coffee shop, co-working spaces, or on the road, while maintaining IT visibility and control:
For remote employees working from a fixed location (e.g. at home or long-term co-working space), many businesses are deploying a private, parallel network using LTE wireless connections. Modern, cloud-managed 4G LTE router solutions are easy to deploy and manage, can restrict usage to certain applications or monthly data plan consumption, and eliminate the troubleshooting and security challenges of using home or shared networks.
Road warriors can benefit from taking a compact 4G LTE router with them on their journey. Some router solutions support multiple carrier SIM cards and can automatically detect which carrier provides the best coverage at a given location. Integrated GPS support provides IT teams with a means for asset tracking.
New Software-Defined Perimeter (SD-P) technology can be used in conjunction with a 4G LTE router solution or deployed on a laptop, tablet or smartphone using client software. SD-P works over any public or private Internet connection and provides a secure virtual overlay network that protects users from Internet-borne threats and “side-jacking” on public WiFi networks.”
Achieving a good work/life balance can be challenging – both for individuals employees and for the organisations they work for – particularly in the modern, fast-paced digital world of work. Increased connectivity – through more advanced devices and social media – can make it difficult for us to ‘switch off’ and puts pressure on employees to do more for longer. “
For a company to be truly productive, it’s important for both employees and employers to take stock on their current working practices and ask: ‘Is there anything we can do to make this better for everyone?’