Vive la work-life balance! New year, new resolutions

So far the year has kicked off with an interesting issue for global HR leaders. In an attempt to restore and maintain workers’ rights to a healthy work-life balance, France has once again set a precedent by legislating that from January 1st, workers will have the right to ignore their smart phones outside of work hours.

This is certainly one way of ensuring employers facilitate an optimum work-life balance and is no doubt a great news story for many as employees head back to work after the festive season – a time of year that is typically marked by fatigue and January blues as reported by HR Grapevine. More than ever, employers have to take special care to keep morale high at this point in the calendar, especially as we head downhill to Blue Monday on January 16th. We will be sharing some ways to consider countering this calendar low point on our blog in due course.

Legislate or lead?

Particularly in small to medium sized businesses, people management should not just be about legislation, it should, if employees are to be effectively engaged, be based on a flexible and motivational people management environment. The recent Harvard Business Review article ‘What Great Managers Do Daily’ suggests that managers who lead by example when it comes to working hours have more engaged staff.

Interestingly, the research shows that managers who work the longest hours also end up with employees who work up to 19% more relative to their colleagues. What is more surprising is that even though these employees are working more hours, their engagement scores are actually 5% higher than their lower utilization co-workers.

Extra mile, extra recognition

One of the most important ways to increase the engagement of your employees is to foster a positive culture within your organization, whether this is working in an environment where they can feel part of a close-knit team and be supported and trusted or a more remote environment where silence aids productivity. It goes without saying that all workplace environments should be positive, in which all workers (employees, contractors, seasonal staff) are treated equally and with respect, and where people don’t need to be constantly micromanaged because they are trusted to do their work well. The moral of the story? When your employees do go the extra mile, be sure to thank them.

Quality over quantity

A good place for HR to start is by tapping into workforce analytics that can track every stage of the employee journey from on-boarding, right through to training, promotion and beyond. This will ensure people are managed and motivated with a career path and reward plan that reflects their own contribution to the business. Better systems will support HR with the right information to manage and reward an employee not according to how long he or she works, but instead, how well they do their job.

With the French leading the way for global workers’ rights, this is just 2017’s first example of prioritizing people in business. Legislation or resolution, business and team leaders should be focusing on employee engagement and wellbeing as these core HR themes continue to gain momentum and recognition this year.

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