work life balance, work life harmony, employee engagement

Among workers surveyed, 32% who are highly satisfied with their work-life harmony say they are more engaged at work, and willing to recommend their workplace to others.

As the lines between work hours and personal hours have blurred amidst Zoom calls and remote working, it is no surprise that more conversations are being centred around work-life balance. 

To better understand the state of work-life harmony today, employee perceptions, and employee needs surrounding work-life harmony, EngageRocket conducted a survey of 3,332 employees in Singapore across 10 industries. 

Prefacing the report, work-life harmony is clarified as "a state in which an individual is able to achieve both professional and personal goals, aided by an environment where “work” and “life” are interdependent elements". As these two facets of employees' lives become increasingly intertwined, work-life harmony helps to achieve a genuine and sustainable balance. It also tailors the experience keeping in mind changing employee demographics and the unique work and family obligations they face every day.

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Work-life harmony is deemed a relatively new concept, with research indicating that its awareness and prioritisation among the workforce remains low. Overall, 61% of survey respondents had a high awareness of work-life harmony but are unsure of what it entails.

It was further observed that those who have managed to achieve greater degrees of harmony were more engaged, with 32% of employees with high work-life harmony satisfaction being engaged and willing to recommend their workplace to others.

The same is true for only 3% of those with lower levels of WLH satisfaction — 87% of this latter group are “detractors" who do not advocate for their organisation.

In particular, small organisations (1-49 and 50-199 workers) were among the early adopters, with many employees of small organisations claiming that their workplaces offer work-life harmony schemes.

What can employers and HR teams do for better work-life harmony?

As employee requirements vary across cohorts, the same need for variation can be reflected in their work-life harmony needs. As such, one strategy cannot fit all due to different levels of engagement, working patterns, risks of burnout, and other drivers. However, the research identified certain work-life harmony trends that could pose as a guide

Particularly, male employees surveyed were more likely to be satisfied with their work-life harmony than women (62% vs. 50%), and to advocate for their employers (23% vs.16%). 

Needs also varied across age demographics — millennials and gen X were more likely to be dissatisfied with their work-life harmony compared to boomers (15% and 13% vs 8%).

Home responsibilities are also a top motivating factor. Gen X, women, and caregivers are at the highest risk of burnout (at 83%, 80%, and 80%). It was also observed that non-caregivers and boomers are at lower risk of burnout, and would therefore require a different approach to work-life harmony schemes.

Interestingly, such variations extend to industries as well. 

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Several other highlights from the study include:

  1. Adoption of work-life harmony strategies is lagging
    1. Employee support schemes have the highest impact on work-life harmony - but are adopted the least.
    2. Enhanced leave provisions & flexible work arrangements also have positive impacts.
  2. Organisations need to establish and exhibit healthy boundaries at work
    1. 61% said that leave benefits are crucial for work-life harmony, followed by family-related support, flexi-work (56%), management support (55%), and scheme communication (43%).
    2. Over 80% of employees report to work even when they are unwell, with “no one to cover” and “too much work” being the top driving factors.
  3. There are considerable challenges to overcome to achieve greater work-life harmony
    1. It is difficult to draw work-life boundaries for 31% of employees.
    2. The very nature of their work does not allow 17% to work from home.
    3. 13% are held back by the lack of the right hardware, and 3% by the lack of the right software.
    4. 9% are distracted by people around them, and 7% by a noisy environment.
    5. 7% report an absence of supervisor support.

Photo / EngageRocket

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