There is a lot of talk about “achieving work-life balance”, but let’s be honest: what does it really mean?
Balancing all aspects of life is a healthy choice for our minds bodies – stress has a toll on our immune system, our muscles and even our hearts. However, the so-called “work-life balance” is as much a social invention as imposter syndrome.
If you pay close attention, you will realize that conversations about work-life balance revolve mostly around women. That is because women are the ones trying to manage more activities than they were supposed to. Placed as the ones responsible for household chores and raising the children, women joined the workforce with those tasks still under their imposed responsibility.
Not only that, but the way the work industry is structured never had women or their needs in mind – hence the mental charge and ever-growing cases of burnout amongst women. We might consider, as well, that balance is hardly ever achievable. For one life area to thrive, another is probably lacking.
For women that means feeling guilty and inadequate and dealing with professional setbacks. The change we need to make here is grand, but for women in business to prosper, we need to address the big “work-life balance” elephant in the room and look at it through new lenses: one of support and inclusivity; so we will explore here ten effective ways companies can improve women’s presence in the work market.
1. Flexible work arrangements
Offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options, flexible hours, and compressed workweeks, can significantly enhance work-life balance for women. Flexibility allows them to balance their personal responsibilities while still excelling in their professional roles.
For that to work, however, it is important to fight basic stereotypes that say women that engage in flexible work schedules are unsuited for corporate or leadership positions, and also stablish a culture that condemn backlash (such as lower pay rates) on women that choose a flexible schedule.
2. Paid family leave policies
Implementing paid family leave policies shows a company’s commitment to supporting employees during significant life events. Adequate maternity and paternity leave not only helps women transition into motherhood, but also fosters a balanced and healthy work culture. Studies have shown that longer maternity leave durations lead to lower turnover rates and higher job satisfaction amongst women. But we have to remember that raising a child should not be on mother’s alone. Fathers also need paid leave in order to be part of this life event, and integrate into the childcare routine, as research shows that also improves their productivity and engagement at work.
3. Onsite childcare facilities
Providing onsite childcare facilities or partnering with nearby childcare centres can significantly alleviate the stress of balancing work and parenting responsibilities. Accessible and high-quality childcare options enable women to pursue their careers without compromising their children’s well-being.
4. Employee wellness programs
Promote employee wellness by offering comprehensive wellness programs that englobe physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Encourage participation in exercise programs, stress management workshops, and mental health support initiatives. Prioritizing employee wellness has been linked to increased productivity, reduced burnout, and improved work-life balance.
5. Clear communication and expectations
Establish clear communication channels and expectations to help women navigate their professional responsibilities effectively. Ensure that job descriptions, performance evaluations, and workload allocations are transparent and realistic. Having an open dialogue and regular feedback sessions enable women to manage their time and responsibilities more efficiently.
6. Mentorship and sponsorship programs
Implement mentorship and sponsorship programs to provide guidance, support, and career development opportunities for women. Mentors can offer valuable insights on achieving work-life balance and help women navigate challenges. Sponsorship programs actively advocate for women’s advancement within the company and open doors for career growth and work-life integration.
7. Gender-Neutral Policies
Review and revise company policies to ensure they are gender-neutral and promote equal opportunities. Remove biases in performance evaluations, promotions, and pay structures to ensure fair treatment. Companies that prioritize gender equality have reported higher employee satisfaction, improved retention rates, and stronger talent attraction.
8. Remote work technology and infrastructure
Invest in technology and infrastructure that supports remote work. Provide employees with the necessary tools, software, and training to facilitate seamless remote collaboration.
9. Time management and prioritization training
Offer time management and prioritization training to help women optimize their productivity and effectively balance competing demands. Equipping employees with practical skills to manage their time and prioritize tasks can significantly contribute to achieving work-life balance.
10. Cultivate a supportive company culture
Foster a supportive and inclusive company culture that values work-life balance. Encourage open conversations about work-life integration, promote self-care, and recognize employees’ efforts to maintain balance. A positive work culture has a profound impact on job satisfaction and overall well-being.