The benefits of work-life balance have come into sharp focus over the last few years as workers’ priorities evolved during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Many workers now place a higher value on job satisfaction, personal time, and flexible scheduling, all key components of good work-life balance.
But is work-life balance a practical concept for those who work in the industrial sector? The on-site nature of industrial jobs makes remote work challenging, if not impossible. In addition, many industrial firms rely on set shifts. Flexible scheduling may not be an option without a significant disruption to business flow.
However, improving work-life balance has been shown to create healthier, happier, more productive employees who want to remain with the company, desirable assets for every industry. When work-life balance is improved, employee morale, retention rates and productivity tend to rise with it. Since higher productivity brings labor costs down and revenue up, what organization wouldn’t shoot for that outcome?
Consider these strategies that encourage work-life balance in the industrial sector:
Create Opportunities for Engagement
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking on more responsibility at work can improve work-life balance. Do you have an employee who seems capable and willing to take on more responsibility? Offering advanced training or a path of advancement can make employees feel recognized and valued. Many employees enjoy the time they spend at work more when they feel like they are using their skills, doing a good job, and have a path forward, contributing to their ability to balance work and life.
Poor communication can cause unnecessary work stress, which can bleed over into non-working hours. Do managers offer clear expectations and timely feedback? Frequent and effective communication can build trust, creating an environment where workers feel comfortable expressing any challenges they experience in the workplace. Addressing those concerns productively and constructively can make the hours spent at work more enjoyable and the time spent at home free of work worries.
Working more doesn’t necessarily make you more productive. It can do the opposite. Productivity and focus tend to decrease with an excessive number of hours worked. All employees need time to rest, recover and recharge! Ensure employees have well-spaced days off and full-time employees utilize their vacations or paid time off. Taking personal time can reduce stress, improve physical and mental health, and foster stronger relationships with friends and family. Consider offering employees health benefits like a company-subsidized gym membership or wellness stipend. Regular exercise can alleviate stress and improve overall health.
Create Increased Flexibility, Less Uncertainty
Flexibility is now the number one reason workers consider changing jobs. People want to work — and many take great satisfaction in doing a good job — but they also have personal lives. Childcare and family responsibilities are cited as the most significant reasons female workers aren’t returning quickly to the workforce. Perhaps if shifts were scheduled to coincide with school hours or employers worked together to provide childcare solutions, more women would return to work in the industrial sector. Women aren’t the only workers desiring flexibility. Men also want more options to balance work and life. Industrial firms may have to call upon creative solutions to offer workers what they need. Consider these possibilities:
• Variable work times
• Flexible number of hours worked in a shift
• Paid leave (especially after significant life events)
• Shift swapping
• Job sharing
• Compressed workweek
• Personal hours in short increments
Improve Company Culture
There’s no denying employee turnover is expensive. Some organizations report it can cost up to 30% of a worker’s annual wage to train a replacement. One way to improve employee retention—and attract new candidates—is by having a great company culture. Create a place your workers want to be (and remain) by finding out what your employees need to be happy at work and do your best to meet those needs.
It’s no newsflash that work-life balance tops the list of things that make employees happy. Happier employees are more productive, creating a cycle that benefits workers and employers. In a world that needs workers more than ever, creative options to improve work-life balance are essential in all industries as workers return to the workforce seeking more flexibility, engagement, communication and meaning in all areas of their lives.