As the years progress, the public becomes increasingly more interested in work-life integration because it combines work and leisure. As evidence of that, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that in recent years, millennials spent more time per day practicing self-care than their predecessors while working similar hours.
As an employee, you have the unique opportunity to foster work-life integration in millennials. In that way, you can create an atmosphere in the workplace that feels recreational and promotes self-management, motivation to complete tasks for the day, and overall satisfaction that can extend to customers and clients. But what’s the best way to go about it is the question.
What is Work-Life Integration?
Work-life integration is the connection of your personal life and job life under the term “life.” It’s a different spin on work-life balance, its original term. The two are tricky to differentiate. First thing first, work-life balance is only considered balance depending on the individual and whether or not they are motivated or satisfied with their current work.
For example, a self-employed person may have more work benefits, flexibility, and interest in their line of work than a factory worker. Thus, the factory worker may be in favor of more personal time moreso than a self-employed person, who is likely living their passion.
In a workplace setting, work-life integration benefits both the employee and employer. On its face, it’s tricky because its application can mean a few different things depending on the person. For a business owner, its benefits have more to do with work ethic and productivity. For an employee, it’s an opportunity at a different kind of work style that allows them to live a more time-managed life.
So when it comes to work-life balance versus integration, the word "integration" implies a melding of the two, while the word "balance" is a separation of time with one or the other. Some examples of work-life integration for an individual would be using your lunch break to walk your dog or answering work emails on vacation.
Ways to Promote Work-Life Integration
To create a more holistic view of career and life management for the employee, the workspace itself can be converted, or employees can participate in daily activities before work to get them prepped for the day.
In times of technology, work can be sent home with the employee. This is the easiest of work-life integration strategies and is often practiced without the meaning of integration in mind. Below are a few more creative examples for applying before work, after work, or during lunch break.
Sponsoring Out-of-work Activities
A lot of the conversation about balancing work and life has to do with more time to discover or pursue passions. Providing employees with the opportunity to discover what they love is personally beneficial to both the employee and the employed.
This is particularly great for a smaller business but can be applied broadly for individuals or team-building activities. For instance, if there is a certain activity that an employee is showing great potential in or desire to learn, then this is a great benefit for all. Learning new skills is always an added benefit and is desired because it can cross into unrelated fields of work in unexpected ways.
Promoting Good Work Ethics
Expect employees to have a wide variety of problems that may interfere with their work: Are they getting enough sleep? Are they taking the proper precautions before doing physically strenuous tasks? These examples, in particular, are ideally the things you’d want to promote because they’re universally accepted to be the most common interferers with work.
Moreover, a worker’s health has been proven to directly affect the way they work and in some cases their ability to work at all. Promoting this will have to be a continual effort that can be simple or complex, depending on the way you prefer it. It can be in the form of daily reminders via emails to all employees to remember to get eight hours of rest.
Making Room for In-work Exercise
This brings me to workplace integration tips that are a little more complex. This can be anywhere from stretching exercises to warm up for physical activities to 15-minute yoga. This should be something that should be optional. It can have the opposite effect on those who feel they are required to do yoga. Daily stretches are a different story.
Therefore it is important to gauge what your employees want and compare it with what you’re willing to offer. A simple questionnaire about what kinds of activities will help them feel more motivated and prepared for the day is a fine start. From there, you can narrow down the ideas to a short list to determine a top pick.
Offering Flexible Scheduling
Flexible scheduling may be the most powerful and effective work-life integration tip on the list. Flexible scheduling is simply being able to work during the most convenient timeframe. This is done by posting the work schedule in advance, typically between 7 to 14 days.
This is an alternative way to improve business endeavors and can be broad or limited depending on how management wants it. Some allow flexible arrival and departure times, while others allow rest time between back-to-back shifts.
Creating a Family-friendly Work Environment
Take Your Child to Work Day, Pet Day, and even an on-site day-care facility or space for employees to bring their children after school is a traditional form of workplace integration that has not failed. Not only does it add a homier feel that improves the atmosphere but it also aids in completing time-sensitive tasks by eliminating added stress.
Many full-time workers are parents, after all, and couples who are thinking of starting a family may feel more comfortable. Everyone understands that work doesn’t stop the flow of life and becomes stressful when one cannot leave work to handle life’s curveballs. Because of that, this is a highly praised and effective form of work-life integration.