Far from being a luxury, the notion of achieving an optimal work-life balance has become a key goal for working professionals worldwide. In the Middle East, professionals are quite clear about their priorities: they want, first and foremost, a better work-life balance. Whether it is to spend more time with family and friends or on sports and learning pursuits, a good work-life balance has been repeatedly identified as the top motivating factor at work in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
In this article, we will be providing some tips to make the process of achieving work-life balance more attainable and realistic.
Set the example
Management support for work-life balance is critical, and it must come from the top. Too often, the perception that hard work is the only way to rise in a company keeps employees at the grindstone, working themselves into illness. Top executives can set examples of good work-life balances and make it known that the same is expected from rank-and-file employees.
Use employee surveys
Surveys of employees’ work-life issues can help a company understand workers’ needs and design appropriate policies to meet them.
Set priorities for all work
When priorities are unclear, employees tend to overwork because they think that everything must be done at once. Setting priorities allows employees to schedule tasks over a reasonable period of time.
A quarter of professionals admit that they work outside work hours due to necessity. If the overtime is chronic, talk to your team and suggest an alternate solution they would be happy with; if it’s a seasonal or temporary issue, you may want to ensure that their efforts are not going to be in the least bit unnoticed, unappreciated or unrewarded.
Train line managers to recognize signs of overwork
Supervisors can spot increasing error rates, absenteeism and signs of stress-related burnout more easily than anyone else in the organization. Employees who show these signs of a poor work-life balance can be referred to the supervisor.
Organize seminars on work-life balance
Such seminars can help employees understand the importance of a good work-life balance and find ways to achieve it. They teach employees how to better manage their workloads, eliminate unproductive work habits, get sufficient exercise and negotiate more flexible work conditions that meet their needs.
Use flexible work arrangements
Achieving a good work-life balance for your employees could be as simple as altering work arrangements by including flexible hours, part-time, sabbaticals for long-serving personnel, and extended leave periods for new parents.
Telecommuting is a way for employees to work from home. It cuts down on stress and unproductive time due to a commute. Telecommuting can be a good option in some cases, and was favored by 10.4% of respondents in the Bayt.com ‘Work-Life Balance in the MENA Region’ poll.
Encourage the use of vacation and sick-leave time
Another good practice is to advise employees to use their vacation and sick-leave benefits whenever signs of burnout or illness arise.
Sponsoring employees’ family-oriented activities is another way to combine work and life.
Sporting events, excursions to amusement parks, fishing trips and other family-oriented jaunts are good opportunities to help employees strike a better work-life balance.
Adopt a formal leave policy for special cases
A formal policy for employees with dependents recognizes and encourages the need to care for sick children or elderly parents. Moreover, some companies allow employees to take leave for community service. These firms recognize that employees obtain life satisfaction from projects or work outside of their regular jobs.
Limit how often employees take work home
The line between work and home lives tends to blur when employees regularly take work home. This practice should be monitored by management personnel, who should also develop plans for making sure that work gets done at the office instead of at home.
In light of the above, achieving a good work-life balance could be as simple as altering working arrangements to enable more flexibility. The Bayt.com Employee Motivation survey showed that an overwhelming 98% of working professionals in the Middle East consider work-life balance a vital factor which directly affects their motivation levels at work.
Companies that encourage a healthy lifestyle and accommodate for different priorities on a year-round basis are more likely to expect improved motivation and loyalty levels among their employees.