Recently, Malaysian job portal Monster published a study that collected and summarised the opinions of over 1,000 individuals from Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines on the topic of work-life balance, with the report coming in conjunction with their new #WorkLifeBalance campaign that encourages employers to introduce policies that give their employees more time to enjoy life beyond the four walls of the office.
The report went into detail about how respondents felt about their current working conditions, whether or not they had a fair split between attending to job-stuff versus personal-stuff on the regular, and what they felt were the factors that contributed to the way they felt.
For Malaysian respondents, the overall statistic revealed that the biggest stumbling block to them actually being able to have this elusive balance was their employers themselves, with 39% of them admitting that they felt their bosses and colleagues were uncooperative in this regard.
37% also admitted that their workplaces were ill-equipped to provide them with the freedom to work away from the office, and nearly half of them said that they still had to worry about work even after leaving the office.
Overall, 49% admitted that they would like to see change in regards to their work-life balance situations, and would like their employers to help them make improvements to achieve this.
What does this all mean for Malaysian bosses and their employees? Plenty of room for improvement it seems, as dissatisfied employees only lead to things such as lowered productivity levels, workplaces dissent, and higher turnover rates—all pain points for bosses and even more costly to any company’s finances in the long run. Want proof? Check out this article detailing the cost of employee dissatisfaction in the USA.
So how to fix the problem then?
Obviously when it comes to making the transition to having a better balance between work-related matters and things outside the office, it’s easier said than done, especially for companies that have long been accustomed to work cultures that don’t exactly make things work-life-balance-friendly.
But that isn’t to say that these things can’t change.
Of course, the circumstances will differ from industry to industry, but for bosses seriously considering making life better for their underlings, there are ways and means to introduce better parity between job and life that are actually pretty easy to implement.
Here are five ways to go about it.
1. Ask them what they prefer.
Communication is so vital to making things work, and it’s no different when it comes to ascertaining how best to give employees a better symmetry between work and everyday living.
By asking them what sort of changes they’d like to see implemented in the workplace, it makes life much easier for bosses to know what they can do to make things work and keep employees satisfied.
This can be done in different ways—from having actual physical gatherings, sending out anonymous surveys through platforms like Officevibe, or even directly asking team leaders what their members need.
Sure some requests might be a bit unfeasible (such as 50-day annual leave allotments), but there will often be workable suggestions that employers might have overlooked.
2. Mental health comes first.
Plenty has been said about mental health over the years, with lots of discussion taking place on social media about how important it is for us to be more open regarding the issue of mental illnesses and the respective treatments.
For employers, being sensitive to this issue is also key, and it would be wise to incorporate some sort of policy that caters to this need.
Setting aside budgets for mental health treatment in addition to regular medical benefits is great, but more likely to be a strain on costs, so maybe it would be better to start off by offering employees days off just to take care of their mental well-being.
3. Allow the occasional distraction.
The internet is a tool so important to so many job positions across various industries, so it’s not uncommon to find staff members interspersing their work day with things such as checking Facebook, watching YouTube videos, shopping on Lazada, or browsing their favourite Reddit threads.
While it might seem counter-intuitive to allow these to continue, it would be wise to consider that employees tend to bring work home, answer emails at 10PM, and stay at the office after hours every now and then.
So if you were the boss, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let your workforce allow themselves five minutes to watch a music video or post a story on Instagram, as long as they’re getting their work done.
A study conducted in 2018 found mixed results in terms of allowing social media use at work, so employers will have to decide for themselves if the benefits outweigh the costs.
4. Consider flexible work arrangements.
In an age where the internet seamlessly connects everything, the prospect of being able to work from just about anywhere has become more viable than ever. While before it was considered impractical to want to operate from anywhere but the usual place of work, more and more companies today are adopting the system of allowing their staff to work from home, from cafes, or just about anywhere else that will allow them to be productive.
Additionally, the flexible work arrangement concept shouldn’t only apply spatially, but temporally as well. Considering the many reports that state how the productivity levels vary at different times of the day from individual to individual (such as this one), it’s no surprise to also see more companies allowing their employees to begin work at different times of the day—as long as the work gets done, of course.
If you as a boss can spare your team members the luxury of working away from the office or working at different times of the day, it doesn’t only benefit the employees. Benefits to the company include increase in employee retention, an increase in productivity and performance, and even saving of office-related costs.
5. Set an example.
Let’s face it—it’s typical of Malaysian work culture for most employees to only leave the office only once they see that their superior has gone home. Being something of an unspoken rule, there’s a prevalent mentality that it’s poor work ethic to stop work before your boss does.
While this is obviously an unhealthy way to approach the job, the fact of the matter that it is what it is.
So if you as an employer so happen to notice this culture in your own workplace, it would be prudent to set an example and demonstrate to your employees that it’s perfectly fine to stop work once office hours are over.
How? By leaving work on time yourself, or at least showing your hires that you respect their time by taking your work out of sight from subordinates.
At the end of the day, it costs a lot to rehire and retrain new employees. If there are easy and inexpensive ways that you can retain the talent you already have on board, then that is probably something worth considering.
Feature Image Credit: jcomp