Managing work and personal life: why do employees struggle and how can employers help? 

The burdens of modern world and adjustment to a post-pandemic lifestyle mean that employees are struggling to find the right balance between work and personal life.  

We’ve experienced various novel approaches to work and changes to our lifestyle after Covid-19 entered our lives, and thus it should be no surprise that people’s priorities and needs in the workplace have changed too. This autumn, we at Opinium asked workers from the UK about their work-life balance, and whether employers play any part in shaping the dynamics between their personal life and work duties.  

Understanding how employers can help 

Opinium data reveals that employers could do more to make employees feel supported, as two in five (40%) UK workers do not believe their employer takes relevant action to help them manage their work-life balance. This trend differs by age, with nearly half (49%) of those aged over 55 noticing employers’ lack of engagement, compared to four in ten (42%) of those aged 35-54 and three in ten (32%) of those aged 18-34. This could be partly explained by older respondents being more likely to have extra caring responsibilities (e.g., children) than younger respondents, and thus needing more support to achieve the right balance. 

So, how could employers eventually help employees manage their work and personal life more effectively? Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies that may work. For example, four in five UK workers believe that reviewing workloads regularly (83%), encouraging breaks and time off (83%), and increasing flexibility on working hours (81%) could help them improve their work-life balance. Further approaches that three quarters of those surveyed believe could be of benefit include increasing flexibility on remote working (77%), setting clearer expectations on deadlines (76%), and setting up a dedicated mental health/wellbeing team to look after employees (74%).  

There is an urgent need for open discussions in the workplace 

Nonetheless, work-life balance may still be a taboo subject for many, as only half (51%) of those who are not satisfied with the way they currently manage work and personal life have made their employer aware of this. Alarmingly, after having raised this issue, three in ten (29%) have not noticed any improvement in their work-life balance. 

In contrast, two in five (39%) UK workers have never made their employer aware that they are struggling to find a balance between work and personal life, the top reason for that being that employers would not have cared, followed by not knowing how to initiate such discussions and fearing they might be criticised. Therefore, we believe that talking openly about this issue in the workplace should become a top priority for organisations, and businesses should reassure their employees that asking for help is definitely not a weakness and will not have any negative consequences. 

To find out more about how workers feel about their work life balance and what employers could be doing to help, read the full report here.