Working on our work-life balance

Our work-life balance isn’t just the time we spend working.

According to research, Aberdeen is the best UK city for work-life balance.

But you don’t have to move to Scotland to achieve it.

Our work-life balance isn’t just the time we spend working.

Studies in this area look at hours of leisure, quality of rest, salary, weekly hours worked, commute times, and quality of life.

These factors mean that our work-life balance is a regular work in progress.

How COVID-19 changed our approach

COVID-19 blurred the lines between our home and work life.

And our work-life balance evolved.

Glassdoor has found 48% of UK workers had taken action to improve the blend of their work and home life during lockdowns.

For businesses, there was a strong correlation found between employees who discuss flexible work and higher work-life balance ratings.

Employers who invested in a ‘people first’ approach – implementing practices to avoid burnout, focus on wellbeing and improved flexible working options – had employees with the strongest work-life balance.

Overtime adds up

Your level of work-life balance can also depend on what industry you work in.

The top-rated industries for balance include:

  • Technology
  • Government
  • Construction
  • Real estate
  • Telecommunications
  • Finance
  • Energy

Of the top 20 highest rated companies for work-life balance (2021) in the UK, nine are from the Tech industry. By contrast, the hospitality and retail industries have the lowest work-life balance.

While certain events and our circumstances can affect how we balance our work and non-work-related commitments, it’s not always straightforward balance for many of us.

Glassdoor’s research also found 52% of workers admitted that work still regularly ate into their personal life. More than a third believed that it wasn’t possible to find a sustainable balance in their current job.

Every little bit of overtime is adding up for us, and on average a UK worker will clock up 22 days of overtime each year.

For people who work full time, women are working up to 7 hours longer each month than men.

A focus on employee wellbeing and giving the autonomy to set their own schedules have emerged as clear ways businesses can support better work-life balance.

While many businesses are focusing on these measures – which are effective – but there are no ‘quick’ fixes for business looking to address some of the bigger issues.

Providing sustained support beyond the time of lockdowns and mask mandates, will be effective in closing these gaps.

Sustainable ways to support positive work-life balance for employees

  • Flexible working – ‘WFH’ is not a thing of the past, this gives your employee greater autonomy over their work schedule. This can account for things such as their commute, any desk-sharing arrangements at your premises, attending health/medical appointments or any agreed long-term arrangements.
  • Part-time and job-share arrangements – Modifying or adjusting a role can be effective in retaining good staff and help fill knowledge gaps or even an empty desk.
  • Paid time off (PTO) / annual leave arrangements – Knowing your company’s leave arrangements or schemes will become especially important in attracting and retaining staff (e.g. purchased or unlimited annual leave, cashing out leave, kinds of leave, how it is accrued etc).
  • Access to mental health services – Providing your employees access to mental health services is a highly beneficial investment for businesses. Having a safe space in-between our work and our leisure helps maintain our mental equilibrium.

Help yourself to achieve balance

Sometimes we need another perspective to improve balance in our lives.

If you are already signed up to CiC’s EAP, our counsellors can give you the tools to better direct your priorities and achieve your personal goals.