Flexible scheduling, time off, and workplace wellness are no longer just perks, but essentials for the modern worker. The pandemic made work-life balance a top priority for employees, and it has only picked up momentum since then. A growing number of HR leaders are embracing this focus on well-being in the workplace, with 63% of companies planning to enhance their health and well-being offerings in 2024.
As HR teams explore the top 2024 HR trends, work-life balance is ranking highly on every list. Now more than ever, employees are looking to more gracefully juggle their home life and professional life — and work-life strategies are proving to be key in improving both worker satisfaction and company outcomes.
Work-life balance is not a new concept. From the push for an 8-hour workday during the Industrial Revolution, to the adoption of the 40-hour workweek in 1940, workers have long sought to carve out the necessary time for rest and family life. When women entered the workforce in large numbers in the 1980s, work-life balance once again took on new importance for these new workers struggling to do it all.
Since then, however, work-life balance for the average worker has worsened. According to an article in Time Magazine, hours spent working have actually increased since the 1970s. The advent of the internet, mobile phones, and wireless connectivity are likely big factors behind longer work days, as they have blurred the lines between work and home life.
The pandemic rapidly reset employee expectations for work-life balance at a time when hustle culture had reached its peak. The shutdowns of COVID-19 revealed that despite earlier suspicions, remote work is typically not detrimental to job performance. Employees came to appreciate the benefits of flexible scheduling even as they successfully met their employers’ expectations. Overall wellness also became a bigger priority, with the pandemic negatively affecting the physical and emotional health of many workers.
Although the health threats of the pandemic are behind us and many people are back in the office, employees have a renewed appreciation for workplace wellness and balance. In a study by Forbes from 2022, an astounding 90% of respondents said that work-life balance was an important aspect of their job. And between 2021 and 2022, employees reported that their company’s commitment to work-life balance had notably improved.
COVID-19 rapidly brought work-life balance to the forefront, but it wasn’t the only reason for its ascent. Record-high worker stress levels in recent years, Gen Z’s passion for mental and physical wellness, and increasing childcare pressures are all big reasons why work-life balance is outlasting the pandemic. This is further exacerbated by the fact that Gen Z and Millennials, who are strong advocates for health and well-being, make up a larger proportion of the workforce every year.
Work-life balance isn’t just valuable for employees — it brings a wealth of benefits to companies, as well. Corporate initiatives that promote work-life balance improve worker engagement, retention, and performance, all of which lead to better company outcomes. Let’s take a closer look at some of these benefits:
We know that work-life balance is advantageous for employees and companies. But, what does it actually look like in practice?
In the aftermath of widespread policy changes during the pandemic, employers have developed a good understanding of what work-life balance means to employees. Initiatives like flexible work options, the development of an empathetic and inclusive work culture, and health perks and benefits all rank highly for workers.
Flextime has also become popular alongside the growth of remote work. This entails letting employees choose when to start and stop working, rather than enforcing a strict schedule. It has been found to be very beneficial for productivity and satisfaction.
With costs of childcare skyrocketing, company childcare support is another big way to promote work-life balance. Employers can show their consideration for the hassle of childcare arrangements simply by providing a list of vetted local childcare options. Companies with larger budgets may consider offering childcare vouchers, as this improves retention for caregivers (particularly among mothers and minorities).
Companies can nurture feelings of pride and purpose in the workplace by clearly communicating their mission statement, regularly recognizing employee efforts, and linking individual successes to larger company initiatives.
We know that flexibility, empathy, and company benefits are all core components of work-life balance programs. In the coming year, we can expect to also see several new work-life balance and wellness trends reshaping the business landscape. Here are 5 trends to consider as you develop your 2024 company wellness strategies:
When employees feel appreciated by and connected to colleagues, they feel more joy and well-being. Using the WorkProud rewards and recognition software, you can foster an inspired and positive workplace that promotes better work-life balance. Our software features a full set of tools for enhancing recognition, onboarding, diversity and inclusion, and many other HR efforts. Contact us for a free demo!
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