Stop the Bleeding!

Image courtesy of Flickr/Mark Sebastian

The telegraph. The radio. The telephone.

Throughout history, technology has brought people together and created instant connections across town and around the globe.

But when it comes to work-life mix, technology has created a major disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perceptions.

WorkplaceTrends and CareerArc published the results of a national survey on workplace flexibility. Their study of 1,087 professionals, both employed and unemployed, as well as 116 HR professionals, shows evidence of this rift:

  • While 67 percent of HR professionals think that their employees have a balanced work-life, almost half (45 percent) of employees — and 35 percent of job seekers — feel that they don’t have enough time each week to do personal activities.
  • Sixty-four percent of HR professionals expect employees to be reachable outside the office on their personal time.
  • 1 in 5 employees surveyed spends more than 20 hours of personal time per week working outside of the office.

Work life is bleeding into home life, blurring boundaries and creating a big disconnect.

And technology is largely to blame.

The very tools which facilitate greater workplace flexibility — i.e., email, smart phones and cloud computing — have inevitably transformed the traditional “9 to 5” into a 24/7 workday. Yet workplace flexibility is essential. According to the WorkplaceTrends study, flexibility is even more important to employees than employers think. While half of HR professionals ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe employees want, 75 percent of employees ranked it as the benefit most important to them.As an employer, how can you “stop the bleeding” and ensure your vision of work/life mix aligns with employees’ expectations? Here are a few suggestions.

Promote optimal mix for direct employees.While taking work home after office hours is the norm in flexible work arrangements, do what you can to minimize the hours employees work on their personal time.

When workloads peak in your organization, contract professionals can help employees achieve optimal work-life satisfaction while helping you to meet project milestones and achieve your business goals. A professional workforce solutions organization like Mom Corps allows you to seamlessly flex your team during peak and non-peak periods. We provide the extra support your core employees need to “stop the bleeding” — and preserve more of their personal time away from work.

Build your employment brand.Develop a reputation as an organization that takes work/life satisfaction seriously by “walking the walk”:

  • Offer flexible work schedules.
  • Permit telecommuting when appropriate (as long as work is done well and on-time).
  • Adapt offerings, when possible, to align with employees’ needs as they evolve.
  • Find additional ways to make work-life satisfaction a reality for every employee.

Then use that reputation as a recruiting tool. Actively promote your flexibility offerings on your website, in your job postings and anywhere else you connect with potential candidates. As work-life satisfaction becomes increasingly important to job seekers, building your brand as a flexible workplace will help you attract more high-caliber talent.

But don’t reserve your promotional efforts for candidates. Show existing employees how to take full advantage of your flexibility programs. When you help employees strike the right balance between work and play, they'll be more focused. More motivated. More productive. And less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Stay on top of your hiring needs.In many industries and job functions, candidate shortages are at critical levels — and dramatically lengthening the recruiting cycle. Positions often go unfilled, and current employees must “pick up the slack” until hires are made.

To protect work-life satisfaction for your core employees, proactively manage your talent acquisition needs. Analyze your current talent inventory and estimate the volume and types of talent needed over a two- to three-year period. Once you detail your requirements, work with a professional recruiting firm to develop a plan that stays ahead of hiring needs and helps employees preserve the balance that’s so important to them.

As your business picks up:

  • Touch base with your team to make sure that the flexibility programs you offer really provide the benefits employees want.
  • Take preventative measures to ensure that technology supports workplace flexibility, without unintentionally undermining employees’ ability to disconnect from work.
  • Provide the support necessary to maintain work-life satisfaction.