One of the day to day issues faced in the workplace by women is having flexibility to ensure that they can maintain a healthy work-life balance. Trying to conform to usual routine of set business hours or taxing shift rosters can create significant stress and even feelings of guilt for women trying to juggle the competing demands of family life and work life. If a woman puts work first, she may have pangs of guilt from not attending to the needs of her family, often missing out on school events, not being able to help with homework or having the time and the energy to listen to every story brought home with excitement. If a woman puts her family first, she may feel the guilt of not being able to do the long days to mirror her male colleagues, she may miss out on the after work catch-up at the local pub and she may be seen as distracted or not a serious contender in the organisation when she can’t commit to work-based travel.
Finding the perfect balance can be a career-long challenge for many women and often the cause of considerable stress and other well-being issues. While significant progress has been made to provide work place flexibility for all employees, many organisations still operate with the assumption that all employees will fit the same rigid mould.
Organisations can make the substantial difference in the lives of their employees by considering flexible working arrangements to support their entire workforce. Here are three ideas which could be considered without adding significant costs:
Working from home days – allowing employees to work from home 1-2 days a week.
How it helps: Less travel time for employees means that they often spend more time working than travelling. Employees feel trusted and valued and feel recognised as a human being rather than a “resource”. Employees can attend to minor household issues like having a tradesman attend without having to take time off.
Self-rostering for shifts – allowing employees to identify the shifts and hours that suit them best.
How it helps: Employees can fit their work commitments into their lives, allowing them flexible and control over being able to attend to personal tasks and social situations without impacting work shifts. Employees feel empowered.
Compressed Work Week – allowing employees to concentrate their weekly hours into 3 or 4 days.
How it helps: Employees get more days off to attend to personal activities without taking the wages cut that comes from part time hours. It also given employers access to employees for full time hours and for longer periods each working day to be able to schedule work activities outside normal business hours without attracting overtime. Virtually costs nothing to implement.
There are many more ways in which organisations can better support its female employees and reap the rewards of harnessing the full potential of what woman offer. It just takes an open mind and broader thinking.