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26 Jan 2023

How wellbeing strategy is breaking down work-life barriers

The need and desire for a better work-life balance – and support during times of crisis – is being recognised by employers

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The modern workplace has evolved exponentially over the last three years as the Covid-19 pandemic expedited the blurring of the lines between working and personal lives. “Leave your problems at home” may have been a historical mantra for the business environment, but the new generation of leaders recognise the impact of personal life events on employee productivity, performance and preservation.

Simultaneously, there has evolved a new desire on the part of employees to bring their ‘whole selves’ to work and a confidence to ask their employer for help when struggling. As we enter 2023, the employee experience is increasingly guiding wellbeing strategy and giving forward-thinking organisations the opportunity to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Employees have become accustomed to sharing their personal family lives, triumphs and challenges on video calls. They have grappled with interrupting pets or children and they have seen into the reality of another person’s existence.

Breakdown of the work-life barrier

Companies are becoming increasingly aware that people’s private family lives are what drive them, and the breakdown of the work-life barrier during the pandemic has led to enhanced support for diverse family units, parents and carers.

Combined with this is an acceptance by leadership that employees have lives outside work that command attention. In the past, this meant that many personal tasks were actually carried out in the workplace and on office time. Whether it be a sick child, caring responsibilities, dealing with a bereavement or struggling with medical issues, it is now recognised that it is practically impossible to compartmentalise life’s conflicting demands.

Recognising this and introducing ways to manage it – through flexible working, additional family leave budgets, expert support, or emergency family care – has become the new normal for forward-thinking organisations.

Despite this, there remain people (such as the recently bereaved, or who are going through separation or who have a serious illness themselves or within their family) for whom the current benefits offerings do not work. These are often the employees who need help the most and bespoke life-stage solutions to help people through whatever life has thrown at them need to be more prevalent.

Focus on financial wellbeing

The cost-of-living crisis and looming recession have understandably put renewed focus on employee financial wellbeing support. However, savvy companies are taking a more holistic approach and addressing what non-financial support can be provided to employees to lessen their physical and mental load.

Work-life balance has long been lauded as a key components of positive mental health and wellbeing and employers are increasingly looking at ways they can credit their employees with their most valued resource: time.

This renewed focus on supporting individuals with the issues causing them stress outside of the work arena is a hot topic of discussion. With the continued cost of living squeeze, contraction in the labour market and limited funding to invest into salary enhancements, many organisations will instead be looking to refining their benefits packages.

Non-salary financial support and tailored family support are the buzzwords for 2023 and HR decision-makers will need to focus on prioritising employee benefits in these key areas to attract and retain top talent.

Turning to employers for help

And, finally, as we enter the New Year and strike action intensifies rather than lessens, a voice of discontent and potential mistrust in political leaders is increasingly likely to result in employees turning to trusted employers first for help and support in their personal lives.

Trust is the cornerstone to all relationships and a business relationship is no different. Trust is always something that works both ways. an employee needs to trust in their employer and an employer needs to trust in their employee.

From an employer perspective, listening to employees and acting on any grievances, issues or suggestions is the best way to build and reinforce that trust. For savvy employers, recognising and asking what employees need in the moments that matter most to them, rather than deciding for them, is likely to pay dividends.

All in all, 2023 needs to bring a continued focus on how we can further enhance the benefits our employees have access to, so that employers can support the diverse and individualised needs of every employee, and meaningfully support them in moments that matter most to them.

Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because employers realise the protective role they now play and the clear return on investment that comes with supporting your most valued asset, your people, when they need it most.

In partnership with ApiaryLife

Life stage and life event support delivered by experts with legal backgrounds.

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