Cultivate Wellbeing to Manage Work-Life Conflicts

Work-Life Conflicts Are Hurting Your Business

Looking to increase employee engagement and retention, and boost productivity? Then help your employees better manage their work-life conflicts.

Though this was an issue before the global pandemic, it’s more critical now than ever. Companies must support their workers as they face unprecedented challenges balancing their personal and professional lives. Organizations that are able to support employee wellbeing — including with a culture that supports people’s commitments outside of work — are more productive and profitable, and able to boost morale, reduce turnover, and attract top talent.

In this article, we’ll provide some tips on what HR departments and leaders can do in helping employees manage their work-life conflicts and cope with pandemic stress.

But first, we’ll take a look at the question, Are balanced leaders better performers?

Yes, Leaders With Healthy Work and Life Balance Are Actually More Effective

The conventional wisdom is that dedicating oneself thoroughly to a cause usually pays off. However, sacrificing balance for career success is likely to backfire. Research has conclusively found that working more hours doesn’t lead to increased productivity; it leads to burnout.

And if spending more time on the job was directly proportional to one’s work effectiveness, then leaders who are rated by their colleagues as having a healthy work and life balance would receive low marks.

But in fact, our researchers found that the opposite is true. Their analysis of anonymized data from thousands of 360-degree leadership assessments completed by participants in our leadership development programs worldwide found that leaders whose colleagues rated them as having healthier work and life balance are also seen as significantly more effective in their roles.

The assessments evaluate a wide range of leadership competencies, but among the questions asked are these 5 related to work-life issues:

  1. Does the leader strike a reasonable balance between work and private life?
  2. Does the leader act as if there’s more to life than just having a career?
  3. Does the leader have activities and interests outside of his or her career?
  4. Does the leader take his or her career so seriously that their personal life suffers?
  5. Does the leader allow job demands to cause family problems?

We found that executives and managers who received higher scores on the balance questions had higher scores on leadership effectiveness, too, with balanced leaders typically scoring 16% higher on effectiveness than less balanced leaders. So the research is clear: organizations benefit when individual leaders feel supported and able to balance work and life.

Now it’s up to HR leaders and managers to support employees in navigating their work-life conflicts.

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Watch our webinar, How to Improve Employee Retention Post-Pandemic with Flexible Work Arrangements, and learn tactics organizations can use to keep top talent engaged and productive in the new world of work.

Helping Your Employees Manage Work-Life Conflicts Improves Productivity, Engagement & Retention

Unfortunately, some companies still haven’t bought into the idea that helping people better manage work-life conflicts will improve retention and productivity. The “Great Resignation” shows the flaw in that thinking: in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath, workers in a variety of industries have been questioning the meaning of their work and rethinking what they want from their lives. Frustrated, millions are leaving their jobs.

In contrast, productive organizations that use human capital effectively take a longer-term perspective on the employment relationship. Quality human resources are seen as a core competency of the organization. People are viewed as assets to be nurtured and developed, rather than merely as costs to be minimized.

Organizations that are allowing their employees maximum flexibility right now are the ones coming out on top. A survey from The Conference Board earlier this year found that 60% of HR leaders reported that productivity actually increased in their organizations over the past year. And allowing flexible work arrangements post-pandemic is enabling higher retention of existing employees and recruitment efforts that cast as wide a net as possible to find the best talent available.

The truth is, employees feel more engaged in their jobs and in their home lives when they are part of healthy work environments. They feel an energetic connection to their work and family activities, which fuels their engagement, productivity, and effectiveness both on and off the job. This is what holistic leadership is all about.

Therefore, rather than thinking of work-life conflicts only in terms of policies or benefits, HR teams, top executives, and managers across the organization should focus on creating greater congruence between employer and employee interests.

To strengthen employee engagement and motivation, ensure you’ve communicated clearly about who the organization as a collective is, what purpose it serves, and how the business impacts the environment, society, community, customers, employees. This creates more purposeful leadership, enabling employees to see the connection between their work and the direction of the overall organization.

We believe managing work-life conflicts will become even more important in the coming years, and it’s one of the things we highlight in our (Better) Leadership Project, where we focus on how leadership can (and should) evolve with our changing world.

3 Factors That Indicate Employee Wellbeing

Look for These Signals That Your Employees Are Able to Manage Their Work-Life Conflicts

1. Employees feel recognized and valued for good work.

They believe that their jobs are a good fit with their abilities and interests. This is key for boosting employee motivation. Engagement and intention to stay are both dramatically higher for employees who believe their managers care about their development and wellbeing. In contrast, the absence of support makes the heart wander.

2. Workers believe there’s a mutual positive social exchange in the employment relationship.

This means they’re paid fairly and they don’t have to sacrifice their personal and family wellbeing in order to perform their jobs; they have a sense of control over their work-life conflicts and boundaries. The majority of workers report that they want flexible and remote work options to remain post-pandemic. With so many people quitting, is your organization embracing flexibility in the workplace and telling your employees that you’re open to continued hybrid and remote work, or flexible schedules?

3. Employees are developing skills and knowledge that keep them employable.

Being encouraged to keep learning and feeling that management supports ongoing development is extremely important for employee motivation. Make sure your managers know how to show boss support for development. And have you been looking seriously at ensuring your managers are ready for the new world of work, with the skills needed to lead effectively in the new hybrid workforce?

You may also want to consider whether your organization is helping your workers to manage any sense of work-life conflict by equipping them to build resilience, which will in turn will increase their engagement and performance.

For example, are there actions your organization can take to show support for sleep and rest? Your company can signal that you take self-care seriously and provide more direct support for your people by helping them to develop new strategies to better manage their work-life conflicts.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Support your people by helping them to balance their work-life conflicts. We’ve developed resilience-building solutions that organizations can use to signal you take self-care seriously and ensure your employees bring their best selves to their work.

Or, partner with us to address your organization’s evolving needs for leadership development in the context of today’s new hybrid workplace.

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January 7, 2023
Leading Effectively Staff
About the Author(s)
Leading Effectively Staff
This article was written by our Leading Effectively staff, who analyze our decades of pioneering, expert research and experiences in the field to share content that will help leaders at every level. Subscribe to our emails to get the latest research-based leadership articles and insights sent straight to your inbox.

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