Annie Boutet | Journalist
Yes! More than ever, personal life and work life overlap. In the many roles that today's workers play--including parent, caregiver and volunteer--more and more is being asked of them, and the lines between all of these roles are blurring.
The reality of the workplace is constantly and rapidly changing, and employees are being asked to do more than ever to meet employer's productivity needs. "At the same time, the family is also changing: more single parents, predominantly women working in certain sectors, blended families with shared custody," says Rémi Lachance, CEO of HR consulting firm Proxima Centauri. And we're also seeing a lot more non-standard employment in sectors like telemarketing, IT and healthcare."
At a time when employers are asking for greater flexibility from their staff, younger employees are coming in with different values and a different way of looking at work. Family is a priority for younger workers, who are seeking balance. "Work-life balance has become an important issue for businesses. They have to be aware of the new reality and adapt to it," says Lachance.
Challenges for employers
While employers have deal to with employees struggling to balance their personal and work life, they are seeing the resulting stress, impacts on performance, absenteeism and presenteeism.
"The challenge for employers is to become aware of these realities and to realize that they can also have an influence on work-life balance," says Lachance. "When employers are aware of the issue, they become more open to implementing solutions by offering different work arrangements and organizing the work differently, and they're more likely to make balance a priority if they want to maintain performance and productivity."
While these measures are relatively simple, they still have to align with the company's reality. In concrete terms, work-life balance initiatives could take the form of telecommuting, flexible work schedules, compressed work weeks (longer work days compressed into fewer days), extended parental leaves, a bank of accumulated hours for time-off later on or even the reimbursement of childcare expenses for those who have to drop off their kids early or pick them up late. And when it comes time to determine exactly what work-life balance will look like at your company, you might come up with some other ideas that are right for your particular situation.
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