Work-life balance tips for SMEs

Work-life balance is consistently cited as a top concern by SME owner-managers. Our top tips will help you strike the right balance.

Work-life balance has become a ubiquitous term in the last decade or so, especially for small to medium sized business, where the traditional 9–5 job is already relatively rare. Technology allowing remote and mobile working has further eroded scheduled downtime.

A report by Glassdoor, a recruitment and HR firm, has confirmed that work-life balance is declining. Some industries, however, seemed to buck the trend.

How can you improve work-life balance, both freeing up your own time and help boost employees’ job satisfaction and retention?

Benefits of work life balance

Donna Miller, European HR director at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, says there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach but that there is lots you can do to help promote work-life balance. “Introducing flexible hours, working from home, job sharing, discouraging out-of-hours email, encouraging staff to engage in community projects – the list is endless,” she says. “But you have to remember that there is no single answer for every person in your organisation and it has to work for your business.”

The one absolute must, according to Miller, is to foster an open culture where issues relating to work-life balance can be discussed openly, ensuring everyone is comfortable discussing any issues, and to consider any requests against the needs of the business. “If they can accommodate requests without harming the business they absolutely should, but it has to work for both the employee and the employer.”

Work life balance policy

Graham White, HR consultant and former HR director at Westminster City Council, says employers who promote a better work-life balance will quickly reap the rewards. “Retention, productivity, innovation and loyalty – all of these attributes naturally occur in a work environment where staff feel they are trusted, valued and recognised for their personal contribution to the organisation’s success,” he notes. And with such a strong business case, it should be a no-brainer for forward-thinking employers.

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