Cast your mind back to 2019. Remember what life at work looked like? Office floors and elevators buzzed with people, Zoom meetings were a novelty, and impromptu conversations were the norm.
Fast forward to 2023, and office occupancy rates are still well below pre-pandemic levels, with 52 per cent for Sydney and just above 40 per cent for Melbourne.
As an increasing number of companies now require employees to return to the office 3-5 days per week, leaders today are meeting with resistance from workers who want to retain the autonomy and flexibility they’ve enjoyed over the last three years.
A June 2022 McKinsey survey found that 32 per cent of workers want to work full-time remotely, 10 per cent want to work remotely four days a week, 16 per cent three days a week, 18 per cent two days a week, 13 per cent one day a week, and 13 per cent prefer full-time in-office work. That tells us that most workers (managers, too) want to work from home sometimes and value face-to-face work too.
For many, the meaning of work has changed. Employees are increasingly seeking purpose in their work. As Gartner’s Aaron McEwan said, “Today, people no longer want to be seen as workers. They want to be seen as individuals with rich, full lives that extend beyond the work they do”.
In short, people want to be seen. One of the best employee value propositions for leaders today is knowing who their people are beyond their worker roles. For example, Dr. Sarah Cotton is the co-director of TW, but that is only one role/hat she wears. She has so many other roles that help her live and work well – mum, wife, daughter, sister, friend, neighbour and so on.
When workplaces value individuals and their lives outside the workplace, a worker’s job satisfaction and wellbeing increases. This is called ‘work-life enrichment’. In practical terms, it might mean an organisation implements additional parental leave policies to accommodate its working parents better.
Work-life enrichment (or, in our case, Life-Work Enrichment because we put ‘life’ first) is Transitioning Well’s whole ethos of ‘Living Well, Working Well’ in action.
We know that ‘good work is good for us,’ and the benefits of work-life enrichment include increased job satisfaction, commitment, work engagement, work performance, individual health and family satisfaction.
All the cornerstones of a healthy workplace, which include;
Support people through life’s transitions, such as becoming a working parent (including pregnancy loss and infertility), leadership promotions, health-related changes, crisis and career shocks, relocation, and late career and retirement. Helping your people navigate the messy intersection between life and work and teaching them the tools of transition can help protect and promote workers’ mental health in the long term.
Know that to be competitive in this tight market, organisations need to promote work-life enrichment and implement supportive practices and policies to demonstrate value and care for their workers. It’s no longer a nice-to-have.
Work-Life Enrichment, Psychosocial Factors at Work in the Asia Pacific. Paula Brough, Zaiton Hassan, Michael O’Driscoll. (2014)
Work-family enrichment as a mediator between organizational interventions for work-life balance and job outcomes. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 25, 274–300. Baral, R., & Bhargava, S. (2010).