In this time and age, employees prefer to work in a more flexible company that allows them to merge personal matters into work hours. For some, it may not be the work culture that they’re used to; but times have changed, and so are what employees think and do.
Work balance and integration
Recent research has pointed out that people no longer look for work-life balance but work-life integration.
Work-life balance means being able to focus solely on his or her private concerns during personal time without having to worry about work. Here, there’s a clear boundary between work and life.
This, unfortunately, doesn’t work for many people anymore.
Work-life integration, on the other hand, points out that many employees can’t quite leave work matters behind when they’re with their families or friends. Technology has made it possible for employers and managers to send work-related messages even during an employee’s personal time. Because of this, employees want it to work both ways: if they’re asked to do work-related tasks during their free time, they should also be able to attend to personal concerns while they’re at work.
Technology in today’s corporate world
Technology has a major role in work-life integration as it plays a part in the mix of jobs in which people are employed, in the work organization as well as in the work distribution across time and space.
In the book Work and Life Integration: Organizational, Cultural, and Individual Perspectives, it is said that:
“Some of today’s most notable effects on work-life balance occur through teleworking, in which workers use information technologies including computers, email, telephones, pagers, fax machines, modems, and other networking devices… to perform some or all of their work at home (or in another location away from the main ofﬁce).”
With technology, the lines between work and the rest of the employees’ life are often blurred. While some of them may gain more job satisfaction from the integration, personal matters during work hours may disrupt their productivity. Not to mention, there are many people who wouldn’t want to be bothered during their personal time to do work, especially those in the older generations.
Does your organization have the right policies in place to make work-life integration work for you and your employees?
Effectively building work-life integration
One study puts it that the shift from work-life balance to work-life integration is due to the change in generations entering the workforce. Depending on the age of the employee, technology and its use in blending work with personal matters may either be seen as a help or a hindrance.
This is why it’s important for companies to find ways for integration to work for all its employees.
Managers and employers should start off by asking their employees what their thoughts and opinions on the matter are, whether through meetings or surveys, to assess what exactly it is that they want and need from the company. This should be done for all their employees so they can engage those in different career stages and ages.
Highlight performance over outcomes.
Not everyone is productive when behind his or her desk for eight hours, and work shouldn’t be measured by how much time is put into it. Rather, companies should focus on creating performance targets that provide rewards or incentives for the work done rather than for how many hours the employees are in the office. This benefits both employer and employee by putting a greater value on the work they do, possibly creating better outcomes for the company and greater satisfaction for the employee.
Support flexible work schedules.
There are also studies that emphasize how much today’s employees would rather be given the choice of when, where, and how they work. These options actually reduce stress and increase productivity that often leads to job satisfaction.
At the end of the day, work-life integration will be effective if the office culture revolves around trust and personal responsibility. If the employers trust their employees to put in the work needed and the employees can claim responsibility to do the tasks assigned to them, then both parties can certainly merge their work-life with their personal life.