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I recently read Qualtric’s Employee Experience Trends report, examining some of the defining elements that promote retention and encourage staff to feel connected to their organizations. One of the four driving factors that they identified this year was the push to reclaim work-life balance.

While this trend is not exactly new, the report released some interesting data about what greater equilibrium can do for business. Specifically, 63% of employees who rate their work-life balance as high are willing to go above and beyond for their companies. This statistic is on top of the many other studies demonstrating positive impacts to mental health, productivity and performance.

Individuals need to feel that they have the freedom to meet both work and personal needs to achieve work-life stability. That requires leadership to take steps and perhaps stretch beyond their current practices to grant their people greater autonomy.

I believe that most managers and executives recognize how greater choice over one’s own schedule and work experience can lead to a more successful, engaged workforce (for those that may need data, please see this Gartner report). Still, there are often roadblocks that can get in the way. Create an environment that offers independence by evaluating which, if any, of the barriers below might be hindering your organization:

Barrier #1 – Goal Alignment

When employees do not have a clear understanding of company objectives, it can create confusion and competing priorities. Intervention may be required to course correct, which can hamper independence. In contrast, when teams are focused on the same, consistent objectives and metrics, it stimulates a culture where individuals can exercise reasonable control over their personal contributions.

Barrier #2 – Ineffectual Processes

While some may think that procedures inhibit adaptability, the fact is that efficient practices and guidelines allow it to flourish. That’s because when effective processes are followed, coworkers know what is expected of whom and in what timeframe. It can also promote greater trust among staff, encouraging them to work in whatever way best suits their needs so long as it aligns with the standards the group has agreed on.

Barrier #3 – One-size-fits-all Mentality

Each person in a company is likely to have different roles, needs and expectations. Just think about the requirements for a bank teller versus a graphic designer. Typically, a teller’s role requires them to be on-site for certain hours while a graphic designer could theoretically work from anywhere. While flexibility might look different in these positions, both functions will appreciate having it. Also, the different ways that individuals prefer to think and behave will likely affect what balance looks like to them. Businesses can support work-life equilibrium by appreciating that one approach will not work for everyone and considering what autonomy can be extended to match different circumstances and interests.

Barrier #4 – Corporate Ethos

Sometimes, the way a corporation does business can get in the way of its own success. Preconceived notions or assumptions that there is only one way to do something right can make it challenging to embrace the concept of individual influence. To check these assumptions, executives can examine the attitudes that lie underneath the surface of their culture to identify any norms, assumptions or beliefs that might impact the organization’s mindset.

Barrier #5 – Communication Channels

In the absence of information, people may be inclined to make up stories. While we can all work on that instinct, open and clear communication certainly makes it easier for leaders, managers and colleagues to feel comfortable reducing oversight and control over others’ work and schedules. Consider what communication channels, systems and practices are in place so that teams may share status updates as well as be open about the time they are away from their computers.

Barrier #6 – Pacing Expectations

Many corporations have adopted a mindset where the workforce is expected to do more and do it faster to keep up with the speed of change in business. While that’s an understandable reaction, it is imperative that leaders consider whether the pace they have set is truly sustainable, or if it’s simply a recipe for burnout. If staff are being asked to do too much, too quickly and too often, the individual contributors and company may suffer.

Barrier #7 – Change Management

Assessing the business’s attitude toward adaptation can uncover potential obstacles to workplace flexibility. On the one hand, some organizations may be change averse, which can cause issues when introducing new policies and practices aimed at promoting autonomy. On the other hand, some companies may adjust constantly. In these instances, it’s hard to exercise reasonable control when external influences rule a person’s work life. When considering a corporate or team environment, reflect on how change is managed and where personnel can set boundaries.

Providing staff with greater control over their work is becoming a standard benefit for organizations that want to attract and retain top talent. Employees are often more than willing to give their time and energy to a company they believe in, and they need to know that their leaders and managers trust them to get their work done effectively without sacrificing important elements of their personal life. By examining and removing the elements and mindsets that may be hindering flexibility, executives and supervisors will encourage the workforce to thrive.

Learn how Emergenetics can help you create an atmosphere where each person can succeed. Explore our workshops or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today.

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