Work-life integration is about more than flexibility in the workplace. It’s more than policies on diversity or remote working or any number of perceived ‘staff benefits’. Work-life integration is less of a benefit scheme and far more of a transformational strategy for growth and success.
The necessity for an integrated work-life situation stems from a modern paradigm filtering into business life from an outside world that has undergone phenomenal changes in the past decade.
A decade in which Airbnb became the world’s largest accommodation provider and yet owns no real estate; Alibaba is the world’s most valuable retailer and it owns no inventory; the world’s most popular media owner, Facebook, creates no content; and the world’s largest taxi company, Uber, has no fleet.
The Power of one
Much of the change in every other facet of our waking lives is around individualisation, and technology has instigated the shift toward consumer control. From TV viewing to traffic reports, from online shopping to holiday planning… we expect an intuitive world that knows our preferences and suits our schedules.
How could the situation possibly be any different in our working lives? It’s not.
Startups don’t need to ‘change’ their heredity; they have a genetic advantage in getting these individualised environments fantastically right from inception. This is precisely what they’re doing and precisely why they are so attractive. It’s little wonder we’re seeing so much experienced talent moving from more established institutions to fresh startups.
Scale, systems & seniority
The size of your organisation, the intricacy of your systems and the maturity of your staff all play a significant role in the ease with which you can shift your business into a work-life integrated modality.
Established organisations are investing enormously in transformational coaches, change managers and scrum masters to affect the changes needed to evolve their businesses into competitive entities.
It took the CBA headquarters a geographical relocation from Homebush to the Sydney CBD to implement their vision, but they took advantage of the move and they did it.
Managing on outcomes and not on office hours is a massive change in mindset and possibly the biggest challenge posed by an integrated work-life environment. From the top down, everyone has to be wholly onboard for it to work.
Getting it right, keeping it right
As with inspiring people, at the core of any inspiring business is a set of values.
Establishing and living these principles and delivering policies that evolve from them, is the wellspring from which everything else flows. It forms your Employee Value Proposition and it’s what potential employees will weigh you on.
Whether your values are about challenging the status quo, faith in the greater good or believing that life is too short, so long as they’re systemically knitted into the fabric of your company’s soul and they deliver actions, you’ve built solid foundations.
Managing many individuals is infinitely harder than a one-size-fits-all approach. Knowing what buttons motivate and energise each person takes time but the benefits of liberating human resources have given us companies like Google, Dropbox, Tesla… and a dozen other era-defining institutions.
How to hold fast
A transformation like this has no real hard start or finish. Aside from the effort required to build momentum, it will continue to be a work in progress.
Getting everyone on board, keeping everyone on board, and holding your nerve to measure over a long period rather than a short period is the challenge.
Reverse Mentoring has become a popular tool that’s keeping the C-Suite in touch with fresh perspectives. White space diary setting ensures managers are walking the work-life integration talk. So too is the visibility of leaders heading to or from a run, or yoga, or whichever activities are undertaken that help them effectively manage their own integration. AKA ‘lead by example’ model.
Whether it’s due to a generational shift or an employment reality fed by the surge of startups and disruptors, or all of the above, It is businesses that promote work-life integration that is defining the new rules of the employee experience.
These business are leading the pack; so too it seems are the individuals who choose to work there.
One of the best parts of working for an organisation where your staff is valued and personally invested? The chances of them wanting to leave are fantastically low.
Yes, it can be tough. Absolutely it will be challenging. But not as tough or challenging as becoming non-competitive will be for your business in the long run.
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