In the final week of his blog Carl revisits Barnett Waddingham’s sixth pillar of employee wellbeing; work/life balance.

wellness on a budget

You will notice that this is week 15 of 15 and we have now come to the end of this blog series...well not quite! I thought I at least owed you all a final summary of everything we have discussed, so next week I will complete week 16 or my 15 week blog series and focus this week on work/life balance.

When I first looked at work/life balance I scored myself 8.5 out of 10, which is obviously a high score. I really enjoy my job and therefore I don’t mind working longer hours, I don’t mind logging in at home from time to time and I don’t even mind having my work phone with me on holiday to keep up to date with what is going on in the office.

I am conscious though that everyone has different perceptions of what a good work/life balance is to them and what they are willing to tolerate. This means that within my team if I ping out an email at 8pm on a Wednesday I probably won’t get a response from everyone until the following morning - which is fine. I don’t want to impose my work/life balance on anyone else and vice versa. What is important is to understand where employees cannot satisfy their own perception of what a good work/life balance is to them, because of continuous heavy workloads or something similar driven by their employer.

Lets have a quick look at some statistics from our ‘Why BWell?’ employee wellbeing survey from 2015:

  • 37% of respondents said that ‘working to live’ was the best definition of a good work/life balance to them
  • 30.7% said that they had a good work/life balance based upon their perception of what this is
  • 28.5% said they felt their employer supported them in having a good work/life balance

Based on these number the majority of respondents felt as though a) they had a poor work/life balance and b) their employer didn’t help them have a better work/life balance. I would suggest these are concerning figures - but they certainly don’t surprise me especially considering that we have some of the longest average working hours across the EU, and some of the highest levels of work related stress across the EU, yet unbelievably we have one of the lowest levels of productivity. Just to recap, we work longer than anyone else yet are less productive than almost everyone else. If that’s isn’t an argument for high wellbeing I don’t know what is.

Let me put it this way: the Swedish often work less hours that us and are renowned for having high wellbeing and a great work/life balance. When they work they work at a highly productive rate for a shorter period of time because of their high wellbeing. They may work at 90% of the full capacity for 6 hours a day rather than 50% of their full capacity for 9 hours a day like a lot of us. This is only an example but the maths works.

I am not professing that we should all change our business models, hire more staff and drastically reduce our working hours, but we should look to what others are doing - especially when they are doing it better than us.

Next week I will summarise wellbeing in my last blog.

Read Carl's first blog on protection HERE

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