A group of office workers of different ethnicities and in casual wear, chatting and laughing on the same table

As we navigate through the ripples of an era that the COVID-19 pandemic so sternly marked, the paradigm of work has drastically shifted. The pandemic has acted as an impetus for millions around the globe to reassess their work-life situations and determine what truly matters.

Priorities, which once hovered around career advancement and hefty paychecks, have been realigned, painting a different picture of what employees now covet the most – a balanced life.

In an unprecedented surge of introspection, the pursuit of happiness and fulfilment, characterised by an equilibrium between professional commitments and personal well-being, has emerged as paramount. This shift signals a new age for workplace culture, where achieving work-life balance surpasses the lure of higher salaries.

Related: Singapore Salary Guide 2023

The new workforce mindset: Work-life balance as a priority

Amid the lingering shadows of the pandemic, the concept of work-life balance changed from being a largely intangible and hypothetical conversation before the pandemic to a very real and undeniable aspect of everyday life.

Page Insights’ Singapore Talent Trends 2023 Report titled, ‘The Invisible Revolution’, sheds some light on this global shift. It illustrates the universal significance of work-life balance that no longer seems an elusive idea but a tangible, everyday necessity.

A notable 47% of parents acknowledged work-life balance as the critical determinant of job satisfaction. Interestingly, a marginally higher percentage, 49% of individuals without children, echoed the same sentiment.

Download our Talent Trends 2023 Report here!

This report also reveals a startling revelation – an overwhelming 92% of the workforce is open to exploring new career paths. This finding points to an unprecedented surge in professional introspection.

Furthermore, when deciding factors in job choices, work-life balance has emerged as a strong contender, ranking second only to salary. The report reveals that 47% of the respondents listed work-life balance right after financial remuneration. It’s hardly surprising, given that a substantial salary lends itself to financial security and quality of life.

The shift towards this balanced life has been so profound that it hasn’t shied away from influencing some of the most pivotal career decisions. People would place more value on work if they feel valued by their employers.

Related: How to attract talent in a candidate-short market

If they do not feel valued, they will leave and look for a new job that aligns with their personal values. A significant 45% of individuals admitted their willingness to forgo a promotion if it poses a threat to their well-being.

This is an undeniable testament to the changing landscape of work culture, where work-life balance is now prioritised over potential advancements in career or earnings.

In this new epoch, the narrative is clear. The desire for better work-life balance has trumped the allure of bigger paychecks and lofty career advancement. The recent pandemic has tested our resilience and catalysed a profound transformation in our perception of work, success, and, ultimately, the quality of life.

Related: Beyond confidence: 3 strategies to help female leaders rise

The role of leadership in promoting work-life balance

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This paradigm shift demands a rethinking from employers seeking to attract top talent and retain top performers. The reliance on non-monetary incentives to enhance their talent offerings is no longer enough.

The onus is now on the leadership within organisations to look beyond the allure of grand salaries and lucrative promotions and, instead, foster an environment conducive to work-life balance.

Related: How to create a great employee experience – in the office or at home

Achieving such balance is not a one-size-fits-all concept; it morphs and adapts, shifting in accordance with the culture and unique needs of each organisation. And then there’s the role itself. For a 9-to-6 office worker, the elements required to attain a work-life balance might differ vastly from a retail worker.

Moving forward, leaders need to remember that the path to a healthier work-life balance will be a unique journey for each company. At its core, these practices are not merely for ticking off boxes; rather, they should aim at fostering a workforce that makes employees feel not just seen but truly valued.

How to achieve work-life balance in the workplace

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Cultivating an environment where employees are more supported and engaged can enhance productivity and create a harmonious, fulfilling workplace. Ahead are 12 ways to help companies create good work-life balance for employees in the workplace.

1. Communicate the importance of wellness and work-life balance

Make it clear that employees’ well-being is a priority to the company, and actively encourage them to seek a balance between their professional and personal lives. This can be done through internal communications as well as daily interactions, which also contribute to employee engagement.

Workshops and educational programs focusing on wellness and work-life balance can become regular features in a company’s repertoire, offering opportunities for personal growth, ranging from strategic thinking, fitness, culinary arts, or parenting.

2. Establish a clear understanding of working hours

To prevent the spectre of work from invading the sanctuary of personal time, it is vital to define a healthy range of working hours and discourage unnecessary overtime. This could mean leaders taking the initiative to avoid sending emails after work hours, thus reinforcing a boundary between professional commitments and personal time.

3. Incorporate recharge periods or synchronous breaks

To prevent burnout and enhance productivity, building regular breaks into the work culture is essential. This could mean being flexible and providing a day off after a peak-work period to compensate for the additional efforts employees put into meeting deadlines. Instituting an extra paid leave day for employees to focus on their personal well-being could be another step in this direction.

4. Offer flexible working arrangements

Flexibility in scheduling and work location can help employees better manage their personal responsibilities and preferences. This is also largely dependent on the type of job. While it may be easier for desk-bound employees to adopt a hybrid or remote work model, flexible work schedules could be considered for employees working in retail or factories.

Related: Navigating hybrid work: Redefining traditional work patterns in the changing talent landscape

5. Focus on productivity and not hours worked

Shift the focus from time spent working to the quality and outcomes of work produced, fostering a results-oriented culture. A company might introduce a results-oriented work environment (ROWE) where employees are evaluated on their performance, not their time spent in the office.

6. Get to know employees’ personal situations

A female adult working from home and laughing with her children, playing with their pet dog

Understanding the individual needs and challenges of your employees can help tailor support and flexibility, promoting a more inclusive and understanding workplace. Learn about their personal relationships, home life and their personal goals.

For example, employees may come to you for time off because they need to bring their pets to the vet or perhaps visit family at the hospital. Being flexible with such situations can also help build employee loyalty.

7. Encourage people to ask for help

Foster a company culture where seeking assistance is seen as a strength, not a weakness, to ease workload pressures and promote collaboration. The aim is to form a secure haven where team members feel confident to seek help when faced with roadblocks or difficulties. The focus is not just to institute initiatives that encourage help-seeking but to foster an ambience where assistance is readily available, and help-seeking is comfortable.

8. Encourage employees to use vacation time

Stress the importance of taking time off to rejuvenate. This can help reduce burnout and boost productivity upon return. Many employees feel that they need to justify their time off, which can be a barrier to them taking their vacation.

Remind them it’s their personal time, and they can use it as they wish. Managers can also provide gentle reminders to those with a surplus of unused vacation days to encourage them to take a breather for their overall well-being and better work-life balance.

9. Don’t glorify overworking

Underlining that rest is a cornerstone of high-quality output. Leaders must set the right example by demonstrating the importance of a work-life balance. This may involve logging off at an appropriate hour and prioritising self-care.

A leader must foster open communication, transparency, and empathetic leadership. It is crucial that managers regularly review workloads to make sure employees can manage their workload, improve their time management skills, and employees should feel comfortable sharing if they feel overwhelmed.

10. Support your employees’ physical and mental health

A female worker with her head on the desk, looking like she fell asleep while working

Provide resources and benefits to help employees manage their health, such as fitness memberships or wellness programs. Similarly, offering mental health resources, flexible work arrangements, consistent work schedules, and adequate staffing to prevent health issues and burnout can bolster mental health and job satisfaction.

11. Get rid of toxic employees

Foster a positive workplace culture by addressing toxic behaviour promptly, as that will improve morale and reduce stress among the team. Toxic culture, when not addressed, can lead to chronic stress in employees. A clear code of conduct, transparent reporting systems, and prompt responses to harmful behaviour are all measures that can help foster a respectful and positive work ambience.

12. Lead by example and model work-life balance

The most important aspect that can contribute significantly to helping employees achieve true work-life balance is for leaders to lead by example and mirror the work-life balance they desire for their employees. Taking time off for personal engagements, avoiding work emails after work hours, and even taking a substantial vacation to unwind and recharge will set a powerful example for employees to do the same.

Organisations should keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving work-life balance and employee well-being. Leaders must be discerning and adaptable to meet the unique needs of their organisations and employees.

Open communication and purposeful action can cultivate a healthier, more balanced workplace. With these measures, employers can aim to traverse this new talent landscape to support employees and create a work environment that prioritises healthy work-life balance.

Read more:
How HR needs to evolve to support the future of work
How to hire to improve gender diversity in the workplace
Employee retention strategies amid the Great Resignation

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