3 Ways to Help Employees Manage Work-Life Balance with Flexible and Fair Scheduling
Director of Product Management
The past year and a half have shined a spotlight on the prolonged fatigue and burnout employees are experiencing on a global level. Look around, and you’ll see that nearly every workplace has people in states of physical and emotional exhaustion.
Once reserved for high-powered professionals and the military elite, work-related stress and anxiety are now commonplace and are only getting worse (a recent Gallup poll found that 62% of women and 52% of men feel stressed on a typical day).
Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and societal unrest deserve some of the blame, the truth is that modern-day work-life balances have been out of whack for quite some time due to increased occupational pressures, poor scheduling practices, and overworked employees.
But with 41% of employees expected to change jobs this year (predominantly in hourly, shift-based roles), many organizations find themselves in a unique (and costly) situation and must find ways to improve employees’ work-life balance or risk losing talent.
Thankfully, employers can improve the work-life balances of employees and increase employee engagement and retention by providing more flexibility and power over their schedules, scheduling shifts adequately (and in advance), and recognizing when employees need a break.
Here are three ways employers can provide employees with a better work-life balance:
Provide Flexible Work Arrangements and Easy Access to Shift Swapping
Life happens. Everyone has personal obligations—like childcare or elder support, school, second jobs, or other responsibilities—that prevent them from reporting for work or working a full day.
Still, our recent Workforce Experience Gap study found that 87% of employers believed they were providing flexibility when it came to schedule change caused by personal circumstances, but only 60% of employees agreed.
The rise of remote work has forced organizations to confront their preconceptions about traditional work arrangements and their impact on productivity. Now, it’s spilling into other areas outside of the traditional office or 9-to-5 schedule.
Flexible work arrangements—like compressed work weeks, where people work 40 hours over four days instead of five, or adjust their start or end times (or which days to work) based around personal needs and circumstances—are gaining popularity.
Benefits of flexible work arrangements include:
- Reduced absenteeism
- Higher productivity
- Improved retention and talent acquisition
- Increased job satisfaction
- Higher employee engagement
By giving employees more flexibility and power over their schedules—whether that’s through accessible, easily modifiable calendars or standardized, streamlined practices for shift swapping and submitting time-off requests—employers can foster a better work-life balance, enhance the employee experience, and ensure employees have time to deal with personal and professional obligations.
Offer Fair and Predictive Scheduling
When your workers know their schedules in advance they can plan their lives accordingly—that’s true both professionally and during dedicated time away from work.
Predictive scheduling (aka secure or fair scheduling) is when an employer provides an employee with advance notice of their schedule. It’s not only a best practice for many organizations but a law in many U.S. states and local, domestic, and international jurisdictions.
There are incentives for employers outside of simply following the rules and complying with legal requirements. By knowing their schedules in advance, employees can feel more in control of their lives and often report higher job satisfaction due to the increased job stability and predictability. Not only that, but it can also lead to occasional financial gains (in some areas, employers must provide additional compensation if a shift gets canceled unexpectedly or a start time is adjusted less than 72 hours in advance).
Predictive scheduling not only benefits employees—a recent study shows that for every 1% an organization invests in predictive scheduling, they’re 6.9x more likely to see a boost in productivity, resulting in untold profits and cost savings.
Identify Fatigue and Make It Easy to Process Time-Off Requests
Burnout is on the rise globally—a recent Indeed survey found that 52% of respondents were experiencing it, up from 43% the year prior. Meanwhile, a 2017 study by Glassdoor found that most Americans only use about half of their paid time off.
Employees are prone to sacrifice time-off and breaks based on a variety of specific and implied factors, including:
- Fear of falling behind
- Being seen as replaceable
- An inability to disconnect outside of work
- A lack of co-workers to cover their jobs
- A culture that discourages time off
But a lack of time to recuperate and recharge can negatively impact employee productivity, affect retention, and lead to lower customer satisfaction, among other problems.
Employers can use fatigue management systems (as well as recent advancements in AI) to monitor the number of hours worked, tasks performed, and breaks taken, as well as previously scheduled time off, and combine that data to flag employees who may be at risk of becoming fatigued or prone to burnout.
Meanwhile, streamlining paid/personal time-off or leave of absence requests can give employees more control over their work-life balances while alerting employers to staffing and scheduling gaps.
Meet WorkForce Performance
High-performing teams operate with agility and power leading organizations. To help them perform at their best, employers need to provide clear expectations and schedules, optimize labor utilizations and costs, automate error-prone and repetitive tasks, and streamline time off and approval processes.
WorkForce Performance ensures your workforce has the right tools for success by forecasting labor demands with machine learning, mitigating risks with predictive and proactive alerts, providing flexible and highly configurable workflows for requests and approvals, and more.
The WorkForce Suite
- Liu, Jennifer. “U.S. workers are among the most stressed in the world, new Gallup report finds.” CNBC. June 15, 2021
- “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready?” Microsoft, The Work Index.
- Threlkeld, Kristy. “Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It.” Indeed. March 11, 2021.
- Jackson, Amy Elisa. “We Just Can’t Unplug: 2 in 3 Employees Report Working While on Vacation.” Glassdoor. May 24, 2017.
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