Survey finds employers and employees don’t see eye to eye on work-life balance

Technology, lack of communication could be contributing factors in the disconnect.

Survey finds employers and employees don’t see eye to eye on work-life balance

A recent survey from WorkplaceTrends found about two-thirds of HR professionals say their employees have good work-life balance, but almost half of employees says they don’t. According to the survey, technology may be part of the problem: Almost two-thirds of employees said their managers expect them to be reachable when they’re out of the office.

“In today’s tech-heavy world, employees feel always on,” says management consultant Tatiana Lyons, principal and owner of Your Creativity Leads. There may be an unwritten company rule that employees should be available just in case — even on their days off — and it’s not uncommon for employees to feel like they should answer whenever a work email comes in.

If companies want their employees to have good work-life balance, Lyons says it’s important managers encourage them to “power down” when they go home so they can get a break.

Even if you’re giving employees plenty of time to disconnect from their work, they may not feel like they have good work-life balance. You should ask yourself two key questions to see if your flexible work arrangements are working the way you want them to.

Does the company truly support a balance?

Employees will be reluctant to take advantage of work-life balance programs if managers subtly or overtly discourage them from doing so. The more leaders support work-life balance, the more engaged and committed their employees will be, says Susan Cucuzza of Live Forward LLC.  In addition, managers also need to be good role models about work-life balance, she says.

Where possible, managers need to try to accommodate individual needs, she says. Those accommodations may reflect different ages, religions, genders, marital status, level of wellness, etc. For example, offering a mix of shortened workdays, flexible days off, fitness club or wellness incentives, quiet rooms onsite, concierge services and so on can help ensure that all employees are able to find balance in their own way.

Are managers implementing options employees want?

Simply having a work-life balance program may not be enough, Cucuzza says. A one-size-fits-all approach makes it difficult to ensure that employees are able to balance their duties in ways that work for them. “The best way to find out what employees need is to ask them. The program may have components working for some but not others. Everyone defines ‘balance’ differently, which makes it difficult to please everyone.”

Sherry Heyl, founder of Concept Hub Inc., says she started her career as an IT recruiter in the late 1990s, when salary demands were hard to meet. “During that time, I learned how to listen to candidates about what was important to them other than money,” she says.

If organizations aren’t listening to what employees want, employers may find a disconnect between the work-life balance programs they offer and what their existing employees, new hires and prospective workers are looking for, Heyl explains. This may mean the organization needs to change what it offers, or it could mean it needs make an effort to hire people who want what it offers.