At the end of the ‘work day’ you go home but that doesn’t mean that all our work is over for the day. Interconnectivity is demanding more from today’s employees. Smart phones have employees “on call” well beyond regular working hours. In today’s new work culture, we have to consciously create a cohesive work life and personal life.
What is Work-Life Integration?
“Work-Life Balance” is an outdated term because it suggests that your professional and private lives are separate and competing. In an interview with Business Insider, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, says, “it actually is a circle; it's not a balance. And I think that is worth everybody paying attention to it.” I am here to explain work-life integration and how you can incorporate this concept into your business.
Work-Life integration is a blending of your professional and private life not a balance. The word balance implies equality between the two but as we all know that is nearly impossible. Integration is a more realistic approach for people who desire success in their workplace and home. Many essential employees are committed to managing both work and family priorities simultaneously. Integration calls for more innovation and distance from dated work structures.
How can you achieve WL Integration?
It’s different for everyone. Kids, spouses, and personal interests all affect home-life demands. The most obvious integration tactics are flexible work hours, telecommuting, and extended family benefits. It is important for managers to identify meaningful ways to aid in integration and communicate with employees. Everyone must have clear realistic goals to meet expectations and deadlines.
In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. Flexible work hours improve output and productivity. Employees will complete their work within a deadline if they know they have freedom to leave once goals are met. Support from managers will lead to less need to contact employees once they have gone for the day.
Telecommuting or working from “home”, is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel to a central place of work. This gives employees the freedom to work at their own pace wherever they choose without immediate supervisor. They are still available to be contacted by their employer via phone or email but their presence in the office isn’t necessary.
Family benefits can cover a novelty of programs. Extended maternity and paternal benefits include paid leave or other programs to support parents. In certain businesses, employee childcare services or referrals can be of great benefit to employees. The ROI to many of these programs is long term and should be thoroughly evaluated before implementation.
Table 1 Click here for more examples and information about integration
Why WL Integration Important?
Integration severs the tether between a single work space and an employee. Studies have shown that flexibility can lead to better benefits for employers, employees and families. According to Lewis and Cooper in their book Work-Life Integration: Case Studies of Organisational Change, employers reported improvements to productivity, absenteeism, and recruitment.
For employees, integration and flexibility offers them choice and control in the workforce. Less stress can lead to numerous health benefits. Productivity and efficiency increase when different work models are implemented. Harvard Business Review agrees that “the story of overwork is literally a story of diminishing returns.”
In Conclusion, in the long run we will all be better for integration. Happy productive individuals in a general are happy productive employees, leaders, mothers/fathers, etc. An individual will reduce their health risks from stress and overworking themselves. A company is more productive and doesn’t risk losing good employees from exhaustion.