Work-life balance is often discussed in the workplace; however, such discussions have invariably concluded that there is no universal understanding of what work-life balance really means or if it can be achieved. As businesses slowly reopen to their customers and employees, and as employees are being presented with the plans to educate their children in the upcoming school year, the issues associated with work/life balance have become increasingly complicated.
COVID-19 has disrupted all of our lives. As the changes in the ways we live and work continue, it is inevitable that employees will reassess their priorities, and some will want to make changes that could leave employers at risk to lose valuable talent in their organizations. Below are some ideas for how employers can better support their employees during this time:
- Flexibility – Flexibility to work remotely and on flexible hours has become the norm for many organizations, and the likelihood that workers will want to go back to old methods of working will be tested. This is true among all generations of workers. A flexible work environment can help boost morale and job satisfaction while decreasing stress.
- Compassion – A culture of compassion increases both trust and teamwork. Empathy at all levels - for employees, for customers, and for the community at large - helps to generate higher levels of satisfaction among employees, increases customer retention, and ultimately generates better financial results for the business.
- Connections – The transition to a remote work environment has been seamless for some, but for others, it can be isolating and lonely. Encourage employees to connect with each other either online or in any other ways that make them comfortable. Check-ins should engage employees on a personal level, and involve more than a discussion of work related matters.
- Proactivity – Engage in active and regular conversations with your employees (who are interested) about the support that they need, whether those employees have school-aged children, aging parents or a family member who is ill. In particular, employees with school-age children are now reviewing plans that might have their children in school on some days, but at home and learning on-line on other days. Some plans provide for half-day learning sessions. As if managing childcare pre-COVID wasn’t complicated enough, these plans will require that employees juggle scheduling and transportation needs that will continually be constantly in flux, particularly for employees who have multiple children of different ages and in different schools.
COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the way we live, work, and engage with each other. Employees will proactively seek out and stay with employers who are willing to be flexible and to find creative work solutions for the challenges their employees are facing during this period.