On 6th October 2017 we heard that a Japanese reporter, Miwa Sado, had died of heart failure after doing 159 hours of overtime in a month. The UK has the longest working hours in Europe so it seems that calls for employers to provide a work-life balance is more than a HR buzzword, but an essential part of fulfilling our duty of care.
The effect of overwork.
In 2015 it was reported in the medical journal ‘The Lancet’ that people working over 49 hours a week faced significant increased risk of stroke and heart failure. More recently, charities have reported the detrimental effects on mental health with one in six of us suffering from mental ill-health in any given week, costing the UK economy millions of pounds.
Employers are now obliged to pay employees for ‘on-the-job’ travel time and time spent ‘on call’ as well as increased holiday pay if workers do regular overtime. Therefore, it seems that it is in everyone’s interests to ensure that working time is kept to a minimum.
Work/life balance is more than working hours.
You may well have looked at ways of reducing working hours for many reasons, whilst maintaining performance. Many UK companies now offer increased holiday, part-time working and shorter working days as a way of fulfilling their ever-increasing obligations towards staff.
Yet this does not seem to be enough. Stress accounts for 39% of sick days taken, and there are increased reports of ‘presenteeism’ in the workplace which is where an employee turns up but performs poorly and is not engaged.
If you look carefully at the working practices of your staff, you will see that the ones who are ‘stressed’ are often the ones working through their lunch break rather than asking for help, they are the ones responding to work emails late at night when they really don’t have to and have little going on outside of work. It becomes harder to unwind when you are just vegging out on the sofa and mulling over the emails waiting for you at the office.
Maybe they are suffering one of the hidden sources of stress and have thrown themselves into their work but are not performing as well as they could be. Insert link for free report.
Putting the life back into work/life balance.
Helping employees maintain a worklife balance reaps rewards. Not only do you benefit from reduced absenteeism, but you get to retain the best talent. A survey from Glassdoor revealed that employers who offered a better work/life balance were rated more highly by staff, and other research suggests that an overwhelming majority of staff were more more motivated to perform well which has a positive impact on your profits.
So perhaps the secret to maintaining a work/balance is not only encouraging your employees to work smarter, rather than harder, but also providing benefits that allows them to get the best out of their downtime?
Social Circle offers our clients an extensive range of social events designed to enhance employees mental wellbeing and reduce stress, including:
Over 150 Professionally-hosted events each month, including restaurant meals, comedy and cinema nights. Free Fitness classes and Walks in the Country.
Low-cost City and Activity Breaks with fellow professionals.
Classes and Workshops to increase knowledge and confidence, from cookery to languages.
Diverse range of pure fun social events for all ages and abilities.