how hr can ensure work-life alignment in an always-on economy

Insights from Randstad Employer Brand Research (REBR) 2018 reveal that 44% of the workforce rate synergy between work and personal life among the top three attributes workers seek in their employment. However, the reality in India is not too encouraging, with Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, and New Delhi ranking extremely low in work-life alignment. So, what can organizations do to better align their work environment with people’s lives? The following might provide some clues.

Understand the difference between work-life balance and work-life alignment: Experts feel that using the term ‘work-life balance’ places work and life on the opposite sides of a balance scale, pitting one against the other. It’s time workplace leaders move away from this trend and gravitate towards what is called work-life alignment. It is nothing but acknowledging that work is not an exclusive but an inclusive component of an employee’s life, and hence should complement the employee’s personal aspirations and individual needs. Work life alignment is about helping employees harmonize their energy – at work and otherwise – such that it creates a more wholesome and meaningful life experience for them.

Be a partner in people’s realignment journey: If work-life alignment is about integrating an employee’s aspirations with their actual day-to-day work at the office, it follows that each employee’s work-life alignment needs to be treated differently. This means organizations must customize initiatives and programs that drive these alignments. To successfully do this, HR leaders first need to look at each employee in their entirety – who they are as individuals, where do they come from, what excites them and so on. The next step is to help employees be aware of themselves and delve into whether (or not) their work situation is aligned with their personal lives. Some straightforward ways of assessing this would be to understand how excited people are to come to work every day, if they are proactive in taking additional responsibilities, etc.

Integrate autonomy into how people do their work: Making people their own bosses or giving them the independence of how they execute their responsibilities invokes a sense of empowerment. Besides, research shows that providing the freedom to pick the kind of work one does, and how they do it, helps to reduce the levels of burnouts by 43%. A word of caution here - excessive autonomy runs the risk of creating ambiguity. HR leaders must therefore carefully craft a balanced model that gives equal space and weightage to mentorship, supervision, and autonomy.

Stay engaged and connected: According to Gartner, by 2020, half of the workforce will not come in to conventional offices to execute their work responsibilities. Remote work will become mainstream and it’s time HR strategists took cognizance of this. New ways of engaging and connecting with this cohort of working population must be quickly put in place to attract top talent. Technology can be invaluable to HR leaders as they repurpose their strategies of engagement to suit the evolving trends. Robust communication platforms and virtual collaboration need to become an integral part of HR jobs and plans as these technologies offer a powerful medium to create personalized and engaging experiences for distributed teams and people who work remotely.

The principal premise of work-life alignment is the fact that people don’t like having two separate identities. This is especially true of the current generation of the workforce that places a higher premium on experiences. The role of the new age HR will be to find a synergy between the hats people wear at work and those that they don outside. As employees continue their search for work that is meaningful, HR’s role has to evolve from focusing on tactical activities to partnering with employees in finding alignment with their sense of purpose and influence.

Ref:
https://www.arcadis.com/media/0/6/6/%7B06687980-3179-47AD-89FD-F6AFA76EBB73%7DSustainable Cities Index 2016 Global Web.pdf
https://www.hrtechnologist.com/interviews/mobile-workforce/the-art-of-managing-a-mobile-workforce/

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