Work and life are inextricably linked, and the pandemic has forced the blurring of lines between work and people’s personal life.
Many employers have taken positive steps to help support their employees with the challenges brought on by lockdowns, working from home, restrictions in the workplace and newly imposed demands on personal life.
Helping employees make their work and life function better together
- It’s individual
What makes work and life work better together for one person, will be very different for someone else. Start by asking your employees to build a picture of what they want in both their work and personal life. Reflect on key components such as physical health, relationships, home, emotional wellbeing, work, passions, hobbies and community. Have them write down how these are for them now, and then how they would ideally like them to be in the future. What’s working well in each component, what isn’t working well? How does work enable or hinder each component? This reflection activity helps employees identify key areas to make changes that will see work and life work better together. It’s a personal start, stop, continue exercise.
Research indicates positive relationships have the biggest impact on people’s wellbeing. Having, maintaining and developing healthy positive relationships impacts people’s feelings of happiness, sense of security, belonging, self-worth and overall wellbeing. It only takes having one friend at work for employees not to feel lonely in the workplace. Your instant reaction may be that we are 'no longer in the school yard, so friendship... really?' However, not only will this increase your employees’ sense of belonging at work, which is crucial for motivation, but happy people are more productive, so everyone wins. Delving even more personal, employees’ closest relationships are incredibly important to making work and life work better together. Many organisations already support these relationships by extending counselling support as part of EAP. Perhaps consider leveraging these services to better help employees maintain positive close relationships and see how these services can be extended in new ways.
With so many being forced to work from home, (and school from home) a focus on how peoples’ home enables their work and life can be helpful. Where you live, provides you with a fundamental human need for safety and the place and space in which you rest and live has an impact on both your work and life more than ever. Expanding on the above reflection activity, encourage employees to write down what they want from their home, how it makes them feel and what activities it enables them to do because of the space it provides. Some employers have financially supported enabling better workspaces and it may be worth considering what other support services you could offer to help employees make the most of their home, such as finance or advisory services. Or simply providing things like indoor plants for their home office or workspace can have a positive influence on mental fatigue.
Research shows that moving your body has more than just physical benefits. People who are physically active are happier and more satisfied with their lives; have a stronger sense of purpose; experience more love, gratitude and hope; feel more connected to their community; and suffer less depression. Additionally, regular physical activity improves peoples’ ability to create social connections, mood and outlook and ability to build trust with others. Enabling and encouraging people to create time for regular physical movement will go a long way to helping people make their work and life work better together.
- Growth mindset
You’re likely familiar with the work of Carol Dweck on mindset where her research shows the view people adopt for themselves profoundly affects the way they lead their life. It can determine whether people create the life they want. Our mindset is the attitude we adopt toward challenges and beliefs about ourselves. In this difficult time of lockdowns and uncertainty many peoples’ mindset is impacted. However, it's possible that we advance and grow more through challenge. So, when there is the opportunity to begin an upward trajectory out of the low points, help people to learn from these setbacks and challenges, acknowledge the difficulties experienced but also the opportunity to grow and change some things for the better.
Work provides many benefits outside of financial necessity however to get the most out of it, we need to help employees make their work and life work better together. You can help your employees do this by taking a personal / individual approach, focusing on relationships, supporting people’s home life, encouraging physical movement and using the challenges people are experiencing as opportunities to advance and grow.