There have been many headlines lately in Forbes
, The New York Times
and USA Today
to name a few, on whether or not it’s possible for both women and men to attain work-life balance. While many companies in major metropolitan cities and regions are providing more work-life balance related perks, such as generous maternity and paternity leaves, onsite childcare, corporate fitness centers and more, there still seems to be a gap, especially for women who have children.
While we’ve come a long way in providing more opportunities for work-life balance, more awareness and steps can be taken to continue to close the gap, not only between employee needs and company policies, but between women and men as well. The more men can also take advantage of work-life balance perks, the more it frees up women to take advantage of them on a level playing field and it allows spouses to alternate and better collaborate to manage their work and family lives. Therefore, below are four ideas for organizations to consider to create even more opportunities for work-life balance for both female and male employees:
1. Allow employees to work remotely for at least one or more days per week: With continued advancements in technology, widespread Wi-Fi access, video conferencing and teams working and collaborating from across the globe, employees can truly work from anywhere. While in-person team meetings, brainstorming sessions, bonding and collaboration are no doubt extremely important, these activities don’t necessarily need to happen in person every single day. Giving employees the gift of working remotely on a regular basis can allow them to reduce their commute times, get some chores done around the house in between conference calls and prioritize the needs and schedules of their children and spouses in addition to their work.
2. Provide employees, especially parents, with the ability to work part-time, job share or carve out a flexible schedule: Gone are the days when jobs have to be done Monday through Friday, from 9-5 p.m. and by one person. Even if some companies are holding firm on these types of work schedules, they’re extremely outdated and have been for awhile. Again, technology gives us so much more flexibility and freedom to shake up how we live and work. Therefore, being creative and allowing employees the ability to customize their work schedules according to the needs of their companies, teams, jobs and families, could create happy and balanced employees who are productive, successful and loyal to their employers.
3. Provide or continue to provide perks both inside and outside the office that promote a healthy work environment: Some ideas for creating a healthy work environment include nutritious foods and snacks, corporate fitness centers or discounted gym or studio memberships, space for practicing mindfulness and access to wellness education through workshops and online tools, such as apps, online videos, webinars or courses, wearable devices and tracking platforms. Healthy environments can help create healthy behaviors and habits, which will positively impact companies overall and their individual employees as well.
4. Create a culture that encourages open communication, empathy, equality and collaboration: When employees feel like they’re understood and respected and their personal and professional needs are met, they’ll likely be understanding and respectful right back. This creates a ripple effect across the organization where leaders, teams and employees can practice healthy communication and lifestyles at work and at home, which can lead to quality work and successful outcomes. Culture is created from both the top down and the bottom up, therefore, it’s important for everyone to do their part and more people within an organization to step up and put these values into practice each day.
Taking a more progressive approach to work-life balance and equality in the workplace between women and men can lead to a stronger bottom line and healthier and happier employees and families.