Work/life balance is the holy grail of the noughties. Where once upon a time glass corner offices were the mark of success, today’s worker has a different agenda for success, and it’s indicative across industries. The gig economy for example has been heralded as part of a new tribe of workers eager to take greater control of their lifestyles and careers.
Perhaps as a result of recession, or as a natural progression in the evolution of the working culture, there has been a universal change in the way individuals want to live their lives, with a greater emphasis on work life balance. People are living longer and want or need to be part of the workforce for longer, while there’s also increased awareness about the effects of long hours and long commutes on health and wellbeing.
“An estimated 1.3 million people who worked in 2015/16 were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by work,” reported the government’s Health and Safety Executive, continuing “in 2015/16, an estimated 25.9 million working days were lost due to self-reported work-related illness.”
In other words, the need for a work/life balance is being driven both by desire and necessity, changing our working culture, the way we work and what we look for in our jobs in all areas and ages of the job market. The misconception is that the balance is about having more time off, but really, it seems it’s about having greater enjoyability and support within the working sphere as well as having adequate downtime in terms of quality and quantity to recharge.
“An estimated 1.3 million people who worked in 2015/16 were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by work”
Work/life balance means more than a good holiday package these days. It’s about company ethos, and right from the upper echelons of the banking world there is an increasing realisation that has been burgeoning over the last decade, that it’s important to look after the physical and mental wellbeing of our teams for the benefit of all.
Creative working environments, team excursions, healthy canteens, flexible working – all these things have been brought into work spaces in order to try to support workers and improve productivity through those unquantifiable mediums of health and happiness. Forbes recently reported on the Santa Monica company PatientPop who summed up work/life balance perfectly: “it’s about creating an environment that promotes a culture of health, morale, and camaraderie.”
On a more unusual note, the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that when people worked with dogs present, their stress levels actually declined during the day, the business PatientPop encourages its employees to spend time together by sponsoring catered group lunches and hosting company ping pong tournaments, and the likes of Facebook and Virgin America have embraced creativity by integrating art in the office, hosting group lunches, and organising extracurricular activities.
“It’s about creating an environment that promotes a culture of health, morale, and camaraderie”
For us, a group of people in an organisation that has always harnessed a fun and lively working environment as an intrinsic part of its culture, the work/life balance mentality is supremely important because it’s very much practising what we preach. So while there aren’t dogs in the office, of course there are regular staff spa breaks – each week we send six team members to spas, covering all costs.
However, we are also addressing intrinsic developments to help support everyone’s daily concerns. We have a culture of supporting women in their roles and as they develop within the organisation. Several employees who decided not to return after maternity leave have been mentored by our Managing Director and as a result have gone on to start their own businesses and this year we have begun looking at a wider home working programme for part time parents wanting flexibility.
In the office we emphasise an ethos of relaxation as a key part of everyone’s day and as such this year we opened a second call centre out of London in Brighton so staff can have a better work/life balance. We are mindful of using technology to support more flexible working wherever possible, not just for women, but for men, parents, anyone with a disability or anyone at all. We reduced the working day this year by 30 minutes and also extended holidays to 25 days as standard.
We have also employed a trained psychologist as a Sales Manager who is now working with many members of the team on general wellbeing, including finances and health issues.
The key message, which is not unique to Spabreaks.com, is that the way we work is changing and it turns out, it’s all about the individual.
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