Due to the financial implications of the recent economic turmoil, multinationals have increasingly been required to do more with less. At the same time, technology has driven efficiency to new highs, meaning that more can be done with less.
Unfortunately, employees have been on the receiving end of some unintended consequences. Stress, unhealthy workloads, and burnouts are all on the increase. Our multinational research reveals some concerning insights. Less than half of employees in multinationals report having a good work life balance, only 46% report a good work load and just 48% reported being able to deal with stressors effectively. Clearly, the issues of employee vitality and well-being are a cause for concern.
“Less than half of employees in multinationals report having a good work life balance, only 46% report a good work load and just 48% reported being able to deal with stressors effectively”
One of the causes of work-life imbalances is technology. The recent advances have made our lives easier, but it has also made it more difficult for employees to switch off from work. Being connected 24 hours a day means that employees spend more time working than they may realise and even when on holiday, employees keep up to date with what’s happening in the office. A lack of time away from work has resulted in employees’ work-life balance becoming imbalanced.
Next time you’re on a train take a look around. Nearly everyone is on their smartphone checking their emails, Facebooking, Tweeting or keeping up to date with current affairs. My smartphone has made my life easier, but it’s also made it harder to stop working.
Enhancing vitality and well-being
Ensuring the levels of vitality and well-being within an organisation are good is incredibly important. The negative consequences of long-term low vitality and poor well-being, for both employees and organisations, are extremely costly. Worryingly, there is a high incidence of employees in multinationals who struggling with vitality and well-being issues.
Our multinational research uncovered that there are three main areas that organisations should focus on to improve employees’ vitality and well-being.
1) Work-life balance
Employees have two components to their life: work and private. In order for employees to have enough energy to perform, there needs to be a good balance between the two. If employees are to reach their potential, one aspect cannot dominate the other and vice versa.
45% of employees report having a good work-life balance
Practical tip: Work on creating an environment of trust. In doing so, employees will be more forthcoming about any vitality or work-life issues.
2) Effectively dealing with tension and stress
For employees to stay healthy, it is imperative that they are able to effectively release the stress and tension that builds up at work. When employees are unable to do this, the stress and tension acts as a pressure cooker, which eventually explodes, resulting in long-term absenteeism.
48% of employees report being able to effectively manage stress
Practical tip: Make sure there are enough planned opportunities for people to blow off steam together. This can be done for example in a team meeting, over coffee or something outside of work, such as a team event.
3) Staying physically fit
Alongside the psychological aspect of vitality and well-being, there is also the physical side. Whilst there is no expectation that all employees begin relentlessly training, a good basis level of fitness is valuable.
Practical tip: Fitness also depends on nutrition and a good diet is essential. One simple and effective way to improve this is to offer employees daily fresh fruit. The relatively inexpensive option encourages employees to stay away from unhealthy snacks, and further shows that the organisation cares for employees’ well-being.
Employees grading their workloads
One of our partners in the financial sector came up with a practical way to discuss employees’ workloads. At the beginning of each week, employees meet and are asked to grade their workload on a scale of 1-10. If an employee reveals that he or she has a very high workload (above 8), the team immediately discusses how they can help the employee so that their workload becomes more manageable.