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Part One: Creating a Work-Life Balance

Today, the average worker changes jobs about every eighteen months. Of course, there are various reasons for this rather dismal fact but much of it is due to poor management as survey after survey points out. For some managers, the constant pressure to improve the bottom line by focusing on productivity can lose sight of the fact that the company culture and a certain level of concern and empathy for the most important asset of any company: its human resources. To companies, turnover costs in the form of recruiting, training and development can cut into the bottom line as well as being a symptom of poor management.

However, it’s really not fair to place all of the blame on management and each individual employee must assume their fair share of the blame because they can individually adjust the way they approach the workplace and their personal lives.

“How Management and managers can help create a better work-life experience for its employees”

While it sounds intuitive, too many corporate cultures are not happy places to work in. Stress, politics, boredom and complacency are human responses that vary with each individual employee. Indeed, the devil is in the details as for how to please everybody. So, the first thing management should understand: “you can’t please everyone.” However, if the majority of employees-particularly managers-are happy, the more productive the company will be. In fact, creating a motivating corporate culture can produce as much as a 6% improvement in profits.

What makes for a well-adjusted and productive corporate culture?

Many studies have been done to identify those characteristics that mark a company as “a good place to work.” The most common way to measure what makes a great place to work is by surveying the employees. The most common responses are:

  • This is a fun place to work.

  • We are results oriented.

  • Everyone here cares about each other.

  • This is a great place to learn and grow.

But these subjective responses are not objective enough to help create the foundations that produce those positive responses.

In depth studies have identified some specific management related factors that contribute to those happy campers:

  1. Respect/Fairness: Company policies are consistently implemented and supported.

  2. Trust/Integrity: Management does what it says and makes no false promises.

  3. Change/Adaptability: Management is agile and flexible to adapt to changes in policy, procedure and market dynamics

  4. Results Orientation: The company has clearly stated goals and tracks with objective metrics as well as communicating the results to all stakeholders.

  5. Teamwork: Management gives careful consideration of the make-up of its teams and considers open and honest communication as key to teamwork. When positive results are achieved, the team is given credit

  6. Employee Engagement: Management takes the time and effort to learn about their employees, their personal interests and concerns. Employees are treated as the most important asset in the company and effort and funding is devoted to developing human resources.

  7. Responsibility/Accountability: Employees are given ownership and at the same time held accountable for results. Management’s job is to support those employees and managers to ensure their success and development. Company policies and procedures are consistently and justly enforced

  8. Learning Opportunities: Management should constantly be developing staff for new opportunities and experiences to not only improve competencies but also avoid boredom and stagnation.

  9. Meaning/Purpose: The company vision, mission and philosophy should be well known and practiced on a daily basis. Aligning the company goals with those of its employees is key to providing the glue that holds the culture together.

  10. Communication: Consistent and transparent communications is important and should flow both up and down the organization.

  11. Decision Making: Decision-making should be pushed down the organization as far as possible. When employees are given ownership, the bounds of their responsibilities should be made clear to avoid stamping out the initiative.

  12. Goals/Strategy: Managements should make the social expectations.

In summary, what works to help create a good work-life balance has been studied to death and is well known. All managers and employees need to take some responsibility for their own work-life balance and it can start by helping the company implement the well-known concepts provided in part one. In part two and three, we will focus on what the individual manager and employee can do to help create their own personal work-life enhancement program.

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