Work-life balance is an important issue that employers need to consider carefully as it directly affects absenteeism, staff retention rates and productivity. A good work-life balance is a way of describing a life in which there’s enough free time to have a satisfying family and social life and to pursue hobbies like sports or painting watercolours.
During the last 20 years, the emphasis on both parents being involved in child-care has increased significantly and the fact is that many of the tasks that used to be routinely done by women, are now shared responsibilities.
This means that arranging flexible working hours and shift-work schedules sensitively is more important than every before, because workers expect to have free time that takes account of their overall responsibilities and personal needs.
For example, it’s now well-known that a shift-pattern that completely disrupts an individual’s normal sleep patterns is damaging to the immune system. Sleep deprivation in shift-workers can lead to an increased rate of absenteeism from work-related health problems.
Moreover, it causes negative behaviours that are known to contribute to industrial accidents, for example, irritability, impulsive behaviour, impatience, anxiety, depression and poor job performance.
Putting employees on permanent night-shifts against their will can easily lead to a ‘constructive dismissal’ tribunal, now that medical science has proved a consistent lack of natural light is a direct cause of ill-health.
Light deprivation symptoms can affect any employees in work spaces without windows and cause work-related stress, anxiety and abnormal fatigue. This will reduce job performance and have a negative affect on the work-life balance - encouraging workers to move to another job.
As with any other problem, the best way to solve the issues surrounding work-life balance is to consult an expert, which in this case is an ergonomics adviser. Ergonomics is a globally recognised multi-disciplinary science, originally developed by the US military to achieve and maintain high productivity through optimised working conditions.
Ergonomics consultancies specialise in assessing and overhauling workplaces from the ground up. This allows employers to reduce absenteeism from ill health, prevent industrial injuries and raise job satisfaction - because healthy workers with comfortable work-stations have a higher level of job performance.
Flexible working hours
Flexible working hours and carefully scheduled shift-work can allow personnel to work the hours that suit them best at a particular time in their life. For example, workers with pre-school children, single people with a hectic social life and those approaching retirement will have different life priorities and prefer different work schedules.
An ergonomics consultant can help organise and implement a flexible system that can accommodate the preferences of the majority of workers and enhance their job performance. This is an excellent way to reduce absenteeism linked to unexpected child-care issues, people who have had a lot to drink the night before and other common causes of reduced productivity.
Employers who demonstrate a practical interest in the welfare of their workers benefit from reduced workplace injury, good staff retention/job satisfaction and significantly enhanced performance.
An ergonomics consultant can also monitor the health of your personnel through employee health assessment days and provide a pre-employment health screening service, to ensure all job candidates are in good health.
Helping your personnel to achieve a good work-life balance is an extremely cost-effective investment in the short and long term success of your business. The typical ergonomics assessment and overhaul brings in a healthy return of at least twice the original investment - which makes it an attractive proposition from all points of view.
What we mean by work-life balance is ensuring workers stay healthy and have sufficient free time to enjoy a satisfying personal life and if it’s also an excellent way to achieve the work-profit goals of employers – so be it!
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