No Regrets: Work-Life Integration Part 7
This article is part of a 7 part series No Regrets: Integration Work-Life.
Part 1: Who will make all the Mai Tais?
Part 2: What amount of work is the right amount?
Part 3: The might of Retirement
Part 4: The Four Burner Theory
Part 5: Let’s Get Personal
Part 6: The Role of Leaders in Better Work-Life Integration
Part 7: The Business Case for Work-Life Integration
The Business Case for Work-Life Integration
Whether you are a cynic and need to make the case to yourself, or a believer and need to make the case to the board it’s time to get clear on the benefits of putting employees front and centre. But a lot of this hinges on the context we live in and the changing face of the ‘talent’ economy is the most significant part of this.
For example, in the UK, about 15% of workers, pre-pandemic were self-employed. This figure was steadily increasing and is likely to do so again once the COVID dust has settled. It has been accelerated in the last decade or so by apps and marketplaces that connect workers to work with increasing ease. If we assume the ‘gig’ or talent economy of freelance workers has a similar proportion of highly talented individuals as in the workplace, then we know not to leverage this is losing out. In actual fact, whilst very hard to measure, I think there’s a case that the people who can monetise their talent directly as freelancers may be more talented than those who don’t.
The long and the short of it is people are finding they have more choice and relatively secure incomes without employment. There are still obvious security and benefits to working with an organisation but the ongoing migration away from typical employment suggests that workers aren’t feeling like the trade-off is worth it. Being your own boss is too appealing.
If we want to get in on the act we not only need to think flexibly to utilise freelancers effectively, but do more to get the ‘freelance’ feel on our own organisations. Freelancers have more choice and increasingly so do more typical employees. As more remote roles are made available or hybrid roles have less expectations for ‘in person’ presence, people also have more choice of employer, without geography being such a key consideration. So a ‘suburban’ firm not used to competing with city salaries will find themselves ‘outbid’ for the best workers. But even then the capital cities of the world may well start to compete with one another for employees. With more organisations within any one person’s choice, and a rise in non-monetary factors in job roles, organisations need to smarten up their offering.
In addition, I am slowly seeing a lot more people wanting to retire earlier, take career breaks, do more studying or put family first. The floodgates are open with COVID forcing work changes and people know that high levels of flexibility are doable.
So aside from employee attraction and retention, which is always hard to quantify, the case to look at this seriously breaks down like this:
- Sickness absence – this accounts for about 2-6% across Europethis is a significant loss of productivity for most companies. Whilst sickness pay is still likely to be a legal requirement in most jurisdictions and research is still in its early stages, those who work from home tend to take less 0.2% less sick days. It may not sound like much but a) bear in mind the monetary worth of that at scale and b) WFH on the first rung on increasing work-life integration.
- In a UK governmental report in 2019it was found that meaningful ‘good work’ (essentially a component of work-life integration as described in this article) is a cornerstone of good mental health and should be positively engaged with by employers for their own financial benefit. ‘Employers are losing billions of pounds because employers are less productive, less effective, or off sick.’ There is no reason to assume it is a UK-only phenomenon.
- Unlimited vacation policies are linked to increased job satisfaction and productivityand where the genuine attempt has been to encourage workers to take it, well received. The business savings are in not having to pay for accrued PTO when workers leave and very few workers take significantly more leave.
- Deloitte have concluded that in most cases a 4-day week supports 20-40% increased productivityand most employees would choose a 4 day week if pay stayed the same. The case here is not one of cost cutting (although perhaps new talent might accept slightly lower offer) but instead huge increases to productivity and employee satisfaction at no cost.
- Accenture, based on its research, have implemented flexible schedules where employees can choose when to complete work and are crediting this with higher levels of employee wellbeing.
- Looking after wellbeing of employees, irrespective of the source, increased the productivity impact of high engagement according to Gallup
- In a longitudinal study looking at 600+ employees, work schedule flexibility predicted a number of beneficial outcomes including up to an hour extra of sleep a night and less family conflicts.
A final word
Creating true Work-Life Integration and employee wellbeing requires data, templates, slides and arguments for increasing your organisation’s emphasis on these key issues.
We advocate a holistic approach and we hope this series of articles has given you insights and inspiration to put this topic on the agenda of your organization and to build a foundation for a more integrated employee experience and society.