While work-life balance has long been applauded as a means of boosting employee morale, it has evolved with time! It has now been substituted with a modern and relevant approach known as work-life integration.
As work has become less traditional with virtual and flexible working modes, work-life integration holds more value than balance.
What Is Work-Life Integration And How Is It Different From Work-Life Balance?
The traditional concept of work-life balance tried to achieve equal hours at work and home. This means that when you go home, you would leave work behind and when you went to work, your personal life does not follow you to the office.
However, over the recent years, with the advent of work phones and video conferencing, the concept of work-life balance has become obsolete. A very few of us hardly get to unplug when we get back home from work or even when we are on a holiday, isn’t it?
In fact, 52% of employees check their emails during their vacation.
Work often spills over into your personal and family time. At the same time, your personal lives impact the way you work. Work-life integration is an effective medium through which you can prioritize and integrate both these parts of your identity. It aims to create a perfect synergy between all areas of your life including work, home, family, community, personal wellbeing and health.
While work-life balance views your professional and personal life as two different entities, work-life integration connects both your personal and work life.
Benefits Of Work-Life Integration
Here’s why implementing the concept of work-life integration can be immensely beneficial!
1. It Is Relevant For Millennials!
By the year 2020, almost 50% of the workforce is estimated to comprise of millennials.
So, in order for the organization to thrive, you need to adapt to the changing needs of your people. To get the best out of this generation of employees, an aspect of flexibility is required. Work-life integration strategies help to provide this flexibility in the workplace and favour the millennials more.
2. It Helps Working Parents!
As working parents are juggling between their family and career, work-life integration could be a great solution to mitigate the risk of losing a valued employee. Work will no longer conflict with your personal responsibilities with the help of flexible working schedules of work-life integration strategies.
3. Lower Turnover And Positive Employee Experience!
When you make work-life integration as part of your company’ culture, it delivers positive results with regards to employee morale and overall productivity.
With the right culture in place, you can see your employees bloom personally and professionally. This, in turn, puts the organization on a productive and profitable path.
4. Work-Life Integration Trumps Work-Life Balance
With work-life integration initiatives, you let employees take control of work balance by choosing convenient work schedules.
This helps to improve loyalty and commitment with greater job satisfaction. In addition, work-life integration can be used as a strategic tool for win-win outcomes in an increasingly competitive and complex business environment.
How To Make Work-Life Integration Work For You?
Let’s look at some of the ways of implementing work-life integration in your organisation!
1. Assess Employees’ Varied Work-Life Needs!
Each employee is different and therefore you should not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
Employees tend to have different needs ranging from flexible work arrangements, family care leave to having on-site child care facilities. Conducting a company-wide survey regularly can help you assess the changing needs of business and employees. As a result, it will empower you to devise effective work-life programmes.
2. Introduce Work-Life Integration Into Your Performance Management System!
Though you give your employees the control to decide their own working hours, it should be done within reason in accordance with the goals and objectives of the company.
Enable your employees to set up SMART objectives which can be tracked and measured by performance management system applications. This will ensure that both the employees and employer is on the right track.
In addition, also organize frequent one-to-ones with the employee to monitor their performance and address their concerns.
3. Provide The Right Tools And Technology!
Leverage the power of technology and provide the right business tools to employees so that they can work wherever and whenever. With the right software and tools that enable file sharing, better communication, mobile access, video chat and more, employees can stay connected at their ease.
4. Focus On Productivity And Not Hours!
Today is the day of a smart worker and not a hard worker. So, recognize this and help your employees to focus on their performance not by putting in more hours but by delivering more value to the business.
Set clear performance targets based on this so that an outcome-based performance management is both beneficial for the employee and employer.
5. Create A Culture Of A Supporting And Trusting Environment!
Open lines of communication need to be fostered so that employees can receive real-time feedback and interaction as and when they need it. In order to build sustainable work-life programmes, it is important to cultivate a positive work culture of trust and responsibility.
6. Start Small And Scale Up
If you are a rookie to work-life integration and are starting new programmes, pilot the program.
Start small and work your way up to determine the success and ROI of the pilot programmes. This will enable you to try out and assess the benefits and increase positive buzz slow and steadily.
7. Get Creative
There are several work-life integration initiatives you can try and there are countless benefits you can offer. Start by asking questions like what is that employees do away from the office that they wish they could do at the office, what you can do at the office to impact their personal lives, how do they spend time away from work.
This will give you creative ideas to come up with effective work-life integration programmes.
Let’s accept the fact that work will interrupt personal time and some personal time will also impact work. A true balance between work and life cannot be found, but a harmony can definitely be struck between the two. So, embrace the need for work-life integration and make a difference to your organization through its implementation and benefits.
The need for flexibility and adaptability is more important now that ever. Work-life integration is a better and improved version of work-life balance!