What companies can learn from the country with the least-stressed employees

How to Improve Work-Life Balance for Employees - Talent Intelligence Feeling overworked? Moving to Denmark might help.

A recent study determined out of the 35 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development member countries, Denmark had the best work-life balance for employees.

Workers in Denmark are also more satisfied with their lives than employees in other OECD countries — and it isn’t because Danes make more.

Actually, the average household net-adjusted disposable income in the country is slightly lower than the OECD member average. Denmark, however, offers a big perk: Only a small amount — 2 percent — of Danish employees work long hours on a regular basis. That leaves them ample time to relax, pursue hobbies — or do anything else they’d like to.

Work-Life Balance’s Inspirational Effect

Numerous studies have proven there is a relationship between job satisfaction and work-life balance. One from the University of Leicester and Norwich Business School found offering support that helps employees meet responsibilities in their work and home life can increase employee satisfaction levels and reduce anxiety and depression.

Approximately half of the respondents in a 2018 Clutch survey said employee perks — most notably, flexible work hours — improved their quality of life and sense of job satisfaction and made them feel valued.

Employees, though, aren’t the only ones who benefit from work-life balance.

Establishing a strong sense of work-life balance can help with retention efforts; feeling like work and their home life are out of sync is one of the top five reasons employees look for a new job, according to a Society for Human Resource Management survey.

We’ve known since 2000, when an analysis of more than 500 companies was published, that organizations offering a wider range of practices to foster work-life balance for employees perform better. OECD, in fact, found working overly long days can actually reduce productivity.

Improving work-life balance doesn’t have to involve employees logging in extra hours. Could any of the following approaches help your organization keep employee schedules at a comfortable level?

stock-photo-throwing-a-paper-plane-in-th-375644Enacting leave policies

Despite nearly two-thirds of workers feeling not taking enough time off results in decreased productivity, vacation deprivation levels are rising globally, according to a 2017 Expedia report. When employees do take time off, they’re having a hard time disconnecting. The number of Americans, for example, who check in at least once a day when on vacation increased from 20 to 24 percent between 2016 and 2017.

To allow workers to truly decompress, companies may need to write (and adamantly enforce) a policy that stipulates which scenarios require an employee to check in during time off — and which would not — so employees don’t assume that’s expected of them.

Offering alternative staffing options

A recent FlexJobs survey found the number of employees who are satisfied with their work-life balance has decreased in the past few years; and the amount who say their work-life balance ratio is stressing them out has grown.

Many, however, feel being able to have a job that involves freelance or part-time work, telecommuting or a flexible schedule would have a positive impact on their personal life.

A study involving the U.S. Office of Personnel Management illustrated the constructive relationship between job satisfaction and work-life balance. Programs designed to help federal employees better balance their work and home lives resulted in enhanced performance — and made workers more committed to staying with their employer.

Support employees’ well-being

Eighty-six percent of FlexJobs’ survey respondents say work conflicts with their ability to take care of their overall health. Employers may be able to help employees reach their best work-life balance level by offering additional health-oriented amenities. More than half of the employees who participated in a recent UnitedHealthcare survey said being part of a company-sponsored wellness program had a positive impact on their health.

For additional thoughts on improving work-life balance, view our blog posts on the top 3 reasons you need to start encouraging employees to take time off and how to ensure personal time policies are enforced; fulfilling your promise to provide the best work-life balance for employees — and ways employers can successfully support work-life balance for new parents.