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How to… create a work-life balance – is it possible in hospitality?

02 February 2016
How to… create a work-life balance – is it possible in hospitality?

A poor work-life balance can lead to resentment from employees, and the enlightened company who recognises this will win the race for skilled staff. Emily Moore investigates how to keep a balance between work and play

Flexible working and work-life balance are becoming the norm in companies and increasingly sought-after by employees, but for many in hospitality, it seems that their roles are still far from satisfying.

There are increasing concerns about the impact of working long hours and not making time to switch off on productivity, personal health and quality time spent with families. Work-related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days a year, according to the Mental Health Foundation, and a recent rise in Britain's working hours suggests that this is likely to increase.

Employers who can offer work-life balance and flexible work options are likely to have the competitive edge, will gain access to a wider talent pool and are more likely to retain existing people as a result. Hospitality is ideally placed to do this - so maybe what's needed is a change of mindset?

So how can organisations prevent their people from heading towards a work-life imbalance? Here are some solutions that can easily be done, and can create higher levels of engagement and retention.

Listen to your people to find out what works best

It's important to get an understanding of what the current engagement situation is within your business, and there are a number of tools that you can use to improve and make yourself more aware of what's going on.

Engagement surveys are a great way to canvass the opinions of your people and discover exactly what they are thinking and feeling. From this you can also find out the percentage of your company that are engaged and disengaged, and you can drill down to find out whether poor work-life balance is causing issues within your company. If you don't ask, you just won't know.

Encourage managers to have one-to-one career chats with their team members. This is a good opportunity to explore how they feel about a range of issues. As a company you will have a better view of how everyone is doing, as well as make those employees feel listened to, respected and appreciated. Perhaps development can be given to managers so that they can spot stress and poor work-life balance and the effects on individuals.

Be fair with holiday entitlement and encourage people to take it

According to Workfront's Work-Life Imbalance report, 38% of employees have missed life events because of poor work-life balance. The demands of today's 'always-on' work environment are preventing employees from taking time out to enjoy personal activities. From children's birthdays to anniversaries, nearly two in five have missed personal and family milestones due to work commitments. It's therefore important that employers encourage their people to plan well in order to take their much-needed holiday, allowing individuals the time to properly switch off and unwind so that they can come back to work refreshed and ready for action. If people aren't able to take their holiday when they need it (within reason), then find out why.

Accept that the world is a different place

If you want to attract and retain the best, you'll need to realise that the ability to have their say is key for the Generation Y employee (those born after 1981 and already likely to be making up half of your workforce). Technological revolutions and far more equality during their formative years has changed the way this cohort of employees view work.

Work-life balance is particularly important to them - a far cry from the baby boomers' 'live to work' attitudes of yesteryear. Hospitality, with its longer hours and variety of ways of working, is ideally placed to offer great flexible working. Many organisations have already banned time split shifts and weeks without break days - and if you're not doing it, there's a danger you'll be left behind.

Emily Moore is people director at Purple Cubed

How you can motivate your employees

To understand exactly what drives your employees, enter the Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2016 awards, held in partnership with Purple Cubed.

The prestigious awards recognise the best employers in the industry and shine the spotlight on those who demonstrate exceptional skill in employee engagement, which promotes a happy, motivated - and in turn productive - workforce.

The Top 30 Best Places to Work in Hospitality is determined by a confidential employee survey, which identifies what makes your teams tick. Each entrant has access to the data relating to their business, enabling them to drill down and identify which areas of the business could be improved in terms of people practices.

So if you are a forward-thinking operator, who wants to address work-life balance and improve the profitability of your business, enter the awards now.

The Top 30 will not only be recognised with an award for being a Best Place to Work in Hospitality - a crucial differentiator when it comes to recruitment and retention - but all entries on the list will be entitled to a place at The Caterer's HR Forum in April.


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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


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