This October sees the return of National Work Life Week (7th to 11th), billed as an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and work life balance. Of all the awareness days, it is one that has particular resonance in 2019.
Achieving a good work life balance has been a buzz topic of late, set against research by the TUC that claims full-time employees in the UK worked an average of 42 hours a week last year – almost two more than the typical EU employee. Frazzled, burdened and at breaking point, some staff are finding their workload unbearable but are too frightened to raise the issue with their superiors, while others are worried about a lack of alternative jobs to consider.
Workplace attitudes are beginning to shift, however, as even the old mantra of ‘work hard, play hard’ is frequently unachievable, thanks to burgeoning inboxes and sustained pressure to ‘get the job done’. The impact of today’s ‘work hard, work harder’ ethic has brought new provenance to National Work Life Week, and has also spawned a growing movement against excessive work and the associated pervading stress.
A recent article in The Guardian by wellness advocate and European Vice-President for Twitter, Bruce Daisley, examined the trend among employers to negate workplace stress and induce better wellbeing by introducing what Daisley feels are token gestures – gong baths and mindfulness minutes are both cited.
He argues that many of today’s remedies offer temporary relief of a ‘fad’ nature and merely circumnavigate the point that people’s productivity, efficiency and quality of life is being eroded by working too many hours. The article opens up a debate about how much work is healthy – more specifically the notion that a four-day working week or six-hour working days are better remedies for professional stress than sitting in a darkened room for five minutes.
While it’s easy to view the shift back to a better work life balance – or even a shorter working week – as an excuse to do less work and party more, National Work Life Week is actually underpinned by workingfamilies.org. The organisation highlights how modern professional pressures mean half of working parents and carers say work affects their ability to spend time together as a family often or all of the time, while 29% of those questioned felt their wellbeing was poor most or all of the time.
Addressing the work life balance is a win-win for all involved – employers, employees and stakeholders. If you’d like some further reading about working smarter, not harder, and increasing wellbeing in the workplace, Daisley’s book The Joy of Work and his series of Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat podcasts are a good place to start. For now, here some of Bond William’s wellbeing tips to get you started:-
10 work life & wellbeing suggestions
Educate line managers on how to manage flexible workers
Offer courses on cloud computing and software, so employees can work from where suits them best and at more convenient times
Actively promote a positive flexible workplace attitude
Instigate a formal procedure by which employees can apply for flexible working
Introduce full-length classes in yoga, meditation and mindfulness before and after work
Make lunchtimes compulsory, with no meetings or desk time allowed
Increase annual leave or allow each employee one paid-for ‘duvet day’ every year
Share webinars and book seminars on improving mental health and time management
Offer free, nutritious breakfasts and lunches to staff
Allow staff to alter their start or end times to suit their family plans
Hannah Hashtroudi (nee Darby)
Principal Recruitment Consultant
Hannah is a specialist in the Office & Commercial sector. Dedicated, hardworking and motivated, Hannah thrives on sourcing and placing the best talent from SME’s through to large blue chip companies across the region and in London. Hannah has grown an enviable reputation for sourcing high level senior appointments together …