Looking to increase employee engagement and boost productivity?
Then help employees better manage their work/life conflicts.
Companies that foster employee well-being — including a culture that supports people’s commitments outside of work — are more productive and profitable, according to Ellen Ernst Kossek, a Basil S. Turner Professor at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. “Helping employees manage work/life conflict also gives organizations greater ability to attract top talent, reduce turnover and reduce health costs.”
So, why do so many work/family policies fall short, leaving employees and employers wondering about their value?
An international authority on workplace issues related to changing work/life relationships and new ways of working in a 24-7 global world, Kossek argues that the business case for supporting employees has not filtered through most organizational cultures.
“At all ends of the labor market, work schedules and demands are dictated by short-term employer needs,” Kossek says. “Many companies — and managers — just don’t buy into the idea that helping people better manage work-life conflicts will improve productivity.”
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 seen as an asset to be nurtured and developed rather than merely a cost to be minimized.
“In these healthy work environments, employees feel engaged in their jobs and also in their home lives. They feel an energetic connection to their work and family activities,” says Kossek. “This fuels their engagement, productivity and effectiveness both on and off the job.”
Rather than thinking of work/life issues 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.
Kossek says three factors are indicators of employee well-being:
- They feel they are recognized and valued for good work. They believe that their jobs are a good fit with their abilities and interests.
- They believe they are able to have a career with their employer with “mutual positive social exchange in the employment relationship.” This means they are fairly paid and job demands are not excessive. They do not feel they have to sacrifice their personal and family well-being in order to perform their jobs.
- They are developing skills and knowledge that keeps them employable for a lifelong career.
In addition, the organization can provide support for individuals looking for new strategies to better manage their work/life conflicts. CCL partnered with Kossek to develop the WorkLife Indicator, a tool to help people understand the factors that come into play when managing work/life boundaries.
The WorkLife Indicator is a simple 10-minute assessment that managers or human resources can provide to help employees as well. The tool helps people to rethink how they manage the boundaries between work and family, identify choices and put together a plan that will benefit them as well as their employer.