Family and work life balance is more important than many employers realise. A better work-life balance is something we’d all like! We all know that family comes first, so why do many employers fail to recognise it? A common misconception is that work-life balance initiatives for employees will decrease output and productivity.
However, for those with families, excessive hours often cause stress, which can directly contribute to a decreased output and poorer productivity.
Family and work life balance related stress
Findings from the 2017 Modern Families Index show that men in particular miss out on a good family life, mainly due to the amount of hours they work. Key findings included:
- 50% of fathers said that balancing work and family was increasingly a source of stress
- A third said they felt regularly burned out
- 1 in 5 said they were always doing extra hours in the evening or weekends so they could spend time with their children during their waking hours
- More than half of millennial fathers said they want to shift to a less stressful job because of work-life and family balancing difficulties
The effects of stress on both the employee and the company are often underestimated. It was recently found that workplace stress costs the UK economy £4billion. Things like absence and illness are often associated with stress, leading to countless working hours lost. The health and wellbeing of the workforce, regardless of whether they have families, should be paramount for any business.
Sources of stress
For families, a poor work-life balance can cause stress to pop up in numerous places. Sometimes it’s the stress of the morning commute coupled with dropping the children off in morning rush hour traffic. Other times it’s parents missing the child’s play or football match or simply having a lack of involvement in the child’s upbringing due to excessive, restrictive working hours. Sometimes it’s as simple as tiredness leading to arguments and fractured relationships in the family.
How the modern family copes with a poor work-life balance
Previously, many families would consist of one parent who worked and the other who took on childcare responsibilities. However, while there are many families like this, it is becoming more and more common that both parents are required to work in order to be able to be financially secure. The affordability of housing plays a major role in this. In 1990, the average house price was around £55,000 in the UK. In 2017 it was recorded at just over £200,000.
For a family to be able to afford a mortgage today, it often requires both parents to be working, and working full-time. The 2017 Modern Families Index found that many young parents are worried about being unable to afford the mortgage if one parent switched from full-time to part-time work. With the usual school day being 9-3, this often means that young parents need to arrange alternative care of their children for the hours after school before the parents finish their shift.
How employee benefits can solve the problem
Offering flexible hours and flexible workplace options to employees can help a family work around their children. For example, as mentioned, if the child has an important event that the parent wants to attend, or if the child is ill, the parent can choose to make up hours elsewhere. Furthermore, allowing the employee to work in different locations can reduce the amount of time spent on the commute or in traffic, giving them more time to spend with their family.
Alternatively, holiday trading allows the employee to purchase extra days of annual leave to further improve their work-life balance and spend more time with their family. This prevents the employee from being restricted to a specific number of days annual leave. It can also help employees make up for any lost time with their family, reducing the chance of conflict and stress. For the employees themselves, it gives them an option to take a break if they’re feeling tired or burnt out, helping to reduce stress.
With the switch from the conventional to the modern family, and with changes in technology, the idea of a fixed 9-5 working week for everyone is an outdated, one-size-fits-all approach. Young families have different demands than before and as such their working week should reflect this. Not many companies offer flexible working, so those that do stand out. They are also more likely to retain employees and appear more attractive to more talented employees. Many young parents are determined to further their careers and should be rewarded for doing so, however not at the expense of time spent with their family. Family comes first!
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