Employment

Achieving the right work-life balance is an aspiration which many workers strive to achieve. However, balancing the demands of a busy working life with family and social commitments is not always straightforward. Statistics published by the charity Working Families indicate that more than one in ten parents have refused a new job or said no to a promotion because of a lack of good work-life balance opportunities. Further, 86% of parents want to work flexibly but only one in five jobs is advertised flexibly.

As this week marks National Work Life Week, it is worth highlighting what employers can do to improve well-being at work, along with the key benefits of doing so. Whilst what depicts a good work-life balance will differ depending on both the organisation and the individual worker, employers may want to consider the following:

Create a flexible work environment

Consider whether it is possible to offer workers the ability to work more flexibly, whether that is agreeing more agile working arrangements, including homeworking, or more flexible working patterns such as annualised hours or job sharing. This can be particularly beneficial to workers with young families or other caring commitments and can help to get the best from your staff.

Although there is no right to work flexibly, all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service have a right to request to work flexibly. If there is not already one in place, consider introducing a policy for handling flexible working requests to aid consistency and transparency.

See also our blog on the UK Government’s consultation to potentially introduce a requirement for job adverts to indicate whether the role could be worked flexibly, as well as an obligation on large employers (250+ employees) to publish their family friendly and flexible working policies.

Regularly review workloads

It is important to monitor the hours and volume of work which individual workers are carrying out. This will help to identify when particular workers may be overburdened and also which workers have capacity to take on more work.

Unless an opt-out agreement has been signed, workers cannot work more than an average of 48 hours per week (which includes all overtime and time spent working for other employers). Therefore it is important to regularly review hours being worked, rather than solely at the outset of the employment relationship to ensure that the obligations under working time legislation are being met.

Promote / consider implementing well-being initiatives

If there are well-being initiatives in place (e.g. running clubs, yoga classes, subsidised gym memberships, lunch tokens, cycle to work scheme, employee assistance lines etc.) ensure that workers are aware of them and their benefits. This could mean advertising initiatives on workplace intranets, having posters around the office, as well as ensuring new starts are provided with information as part of their induction process.

If there are currently no well-being initiatives in place, consider whether it would be feasible to introduce some.

What are the benefits for employers?

There are numerous potential benefits for employers who focus on the well-being of their workforce and implement initiatives to promote a healthy work-life balance, which include:

  • Improved productivity: if employees are happy and feel appreciated at work, this will often lead to increased productivity, efficiency and employee motivation. According to the charity, Working Families, nearly two thirds of working parents in Scotland believe that employees are more motivated, productive and likely to stay if their employer offers flexibility.
  • Higher levels of staff retention: if there is a positive working environment workers will be less likely to look elsewhere for an alternative role, which will save time and effort on recruitment costs. It will also help to build a good reputation for the organisation, helping to attract the best candidates for new roles.
  • Lower levels of absence, reduced levels of stress and work related ill health: overworking and burnout can often lead to health issues such as stress and anxiety, along with other mental ill health conditions. The Mental Health at Work Report 2019 has shown that 52% of those who experienced poor mental health due to work cited that it was due to pressure and 36% mentioned workload as causing poor mental health symptoms. For more information on promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace, see our earlier blog.

For more information on well-being in the workplace and any of the matters discussed in this blog, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact. Brodies Workbox users may also want to take a look at our pages on Flexible Working, Working Time Regulations and Mental Ill-health.

 

Katie Spearman

Practice Development Lawyer at Brodies LLP
Katie is an Assistant Practice Development Lawyer within the employment team. Her role involves assisting with the development and maintenance of Brodies BResourceFull Workbox, our award-winning online HR and employment law resource. Katie also provides practical, up-to-date legal materials for clients as well as her colleagues in the employment team and regularly blogs on the latest topical employment law issues.
Katie Spearman