Work-Life Balance is a term which has haunted us for many years. This seeming nirvana where you contribute fully at work and still have time for your relationships, hobbies, housework, life admin and downtime. I haven’t met anyone who thinks they have achieved it. But surely the ‘it’ is different for everyone? Maybe it’s time for a re-think. Holistic is the second H of H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM.
Holistic as part of a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM considers how we should view work as one essential element to our life, which should support and enrich the other areas too.
A business that encourages a more Holistic approach to integrating work and life is a more respectful and honest place to work, and therefore more attractive for employees and customers alike.
A BBC article looks at research done in 2020 into how employees of two London-based firms managed and viewed their own work-life balance: Those who felt that they had a more holistic and rounded life had similar notions in common, such as:
- They rejected commonly-held beliefs that normally started with ‘I should…’, for example: ‘I should work long hours because I’m in a senior position’.
- They spent time reflecting on how certain situations at work made them feel, particularly the ones which fuelled most resentment, blame or anger. They then prioritised changing how these situations unfolded.
- They also re-prioritised their life as a whole and the place of work within it and looked for solutions to help with those different priorities.
This idea of focusing on your own needs, wants and emotions to organise your life, rather than picking up all the old traditions and trying to force yourself into them is a theme which is very much central to a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM.
Business Culture Vs Individual Needs… who wins?
Even for businesses that want to be more accommodating, they often feel trapped by practicalities: how can a business with 1000 employees create HR policies that suit each individual? If you look at it from the perspective of needing a policy for every single possible combination that someone may want, then it is impossible. But actually achieving a more holistic life for an employee is about feeling in control of it, that includes control over the way you work. It’s about choices, not a completely bespoke arrangement.
However, handing more control to the individual is culturally against just about every organisational play-book that our current businesses are built on. For many businesses, command and control are the only ways they know.
Change is happening…
Slowly though we are starting to see change. A big kick-start was given by the mandate to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing businesses which had never embraced the work-at-home culture to suddenly dive in.
As we resurface from the pandemic we find that businesses are now re-evaluating how they use their office space, how they motivate and manage teams, how the home and family have now been brought starkly into the same virtual or real space as work. Many interesting conversations are starting to happen, which is wonderful.
Where do you start?
Just as every individual is unique, as is every business, so there won’t be (and shouldn’t be) a one size fits all answer. But maybe there are small steps that every business could look at to help their employees individualise their working life;
- Could there be just 2-3 core hours in a day when someone has to be online and the rest of ‘working hours’ could be done with the other 22/21 in the day – encouraging flexibility?
- Could employees be allowed to choose their own tech package (phone, laptop etc) with a certain amount paid for by the company and the employee to top up the rest – allowing for individual tastes and needs?
- Could every employee have the opportunity to apply for a short sabbatical or time away from work to do something which enriches their lives – encouraging a more holistic life and bringing new skills back into the workplace ?
- Could a company invest in an on-site or close-to-site nursery to encourage a more family-friendly attitude?
- Could a company have a process by which it invests in the small side-hustles of its employees to promote innovation and creativity?
There are hundreds of options and variations which can be tailored to each business – it’s all about creativity and thinking about what type of people and behaviours you want to encourage.
The whole notion of a H.E.A.L.T.H.Y careerTM benefitting businesses AND individuals is something we are very passionate about. If you’d like to add your views to the debates then please get in touch, we’d love to speak to you.