There were two articles this month that made me pause. How can any leader today say that work/life balance is less of an important resource for their employees? From HR Executive: Work/Life Loses its Balance. As for whether it is a top motivator, one must ask whether it ever was? (as defined by anything other than a list of options in an employee opinion survey).
To find out how much work/life balance is a priority, I would not ask the employee, “Did it motivate you to do your best,” but rather find out if access to work/life supports provides you with the tools you need so that you could do your best.
The idea that employees choose to be productive with the right motivations misses the point. Healthy workplaces where employees are engaged and productive are places where there are work/life supports in place and a culture that allows for these supports to be maximized. Leaders would be smart to remember that the next time they are trying to figure out what their organization can possibly do without.
Recently, there was a releated interesting article from Great Place to Work: 5 Ways to Make your Employees Happier. To be honest, I sometime bristle at the concept of “making employees happy” as an important goal of a workplace effectiveness strategy. Depending on how my day was going, for example if it has been hectic, I might ask myself, “Is it really supposed to be about making employees happy or about enabling better business outcomes (in a way that supports the well-being of employees)?” Then I realized that being happy frees up a person’s level of energy (the holy grail of any successful work/life strategy). While time is finite, strategies that are known to positively create energy should be embraced for practical reasons.
We use energy not just for the everyday tasks but to create, innovate, and “go the extra mile.” When you start your day with plenty of energy, you have the resilience to deal with what comes and thrive in unplanned situations. Our relationships tend to be more positive with an energetic foundation. And we feel better, healthier, perhaps more optimistic about the future. The Great Place to Work Institute makes a good point showing how this is being realized by successful organizations. And the formula for getting there is spelled out as well.