We’re all striving for the ultimate work-life balance – companies and their team members. Thought to be first used in the ’70s and ’80s as Baby Boomers were reaching the apex of their working life, the term has since become a way of describing a generalised solution to burnout. Yet, like most aspects of wellbeing, achieving a work-life balance is highly personalised and, for some, hard to achieve (which might explain the popularity of “symptoms of burnout” as an internet search term). 

But that doesn’t stop the “grass is greener” mentality that many of us seem to have. In fact, a recent 2023 survey found that while 60 per cent of employees in Australia are generally happy in their current jobs, they would consider leaving for higher pay and a better work-life balance. So, how can employers encourage a culture of wellbeing and balance in the workplace? Is it about time management, working from home and more of a balance with family life, or is it all of the above? We asked three industry leaders to share their advice. 

Close-up of career counsellor Rebekah Di Blasi smiling, standing against a white brick wall, wearing a blue blouse and gold necklace with the letter B on it.

Rebekah Di Blasi, Career Counsellor, Job Search Coach and owner of Design Your Best Work Life

After a decade working with HR and recruitment teams around the world, Rebekah believes that ultimately work-life balance comes down to employers setting the example to empower their teams to achieve balance.

“I think it’s the employer’s job to have open and honest conversations with their team about what work-life balance means to each person individually. They should also be setting an example, clearly explaining what works for them, including loudly sharing when they’re leaving early or working from home and encouraging their team to do the same. Yes, employees need to advocate for themselves and what they need, but if they don’t think they’ll get a positive response, they’re more likely to just put their head down and find a way.

"Flexible working is more than just a policy; it’s a constantly moving beast, and what worked yesterday, might not work today. Its application in real life will come down to the relationship between each employee and their manager, and it’s up to organisations to create an environment where everybody feels safe and confident talking about it.

“Often overwhelm and burnout happens when what previously felt balanced, suddenly shifts, and there’s a mismatch between someone’s capacity and their workload. Employers need to be aware of this and have systems in place to regularly check in, both formally and on a casual, day-to-day basis, ensuring conversations about workload, capacity and work-life balance are encouraged and supported.”

SEE ALSO: How To Switch Off From Work When Working From Home

Close-up of Equalution’s CEO Amal Wakim smiling in a black jacket holding a pink doughnut to her chin, with a pale pink background.

Amal Wakim, CEO and Co-Founder of Equalution

Having helped more than 50,000 people transform their lives through her science-based nutrition program Equalution, it’s not surprising that Amal Wakim has introduced several wellbeing initiatives in her workplace. 

Work is not the antithesis of life; it is a part of it. Grinding away seven days a week is simply unsustainable, and it can make you and your employees resent the job, regardless of how passionate you are. In my workplace, our large team has embraced the advantages of a digital workplace, fostering a hybrid environment that encourages work-life balance. Additionally, we've introduced several initiatives aimed at enhancing our employees' wellbeing, including birthday leave, volunteer leave and mental health days, giving the team the freedom to recharge. We've also instilled a strong work-life balance culture by regularly asking the question, 'Can this wait until Monday?' 

“Nutrition and fitness are also fundamental components of work-life balance. They are the cornerstone of overall wellbeing, impacting not only physical health but also mental clarity and emotional stability. Moreover, good nutrition and fitness habits instil discipline and time-management skills, which are invaluable for maintaining boundaries and ensuring that both your work and personal life are fulfilling and balanced. I firmly believe in working smarter, not harder. Taking time to disconnect, recharge and engage in activities beyond work isn't just essential, it ensures each day starts with a clear and determined mindset.”

SEE ALSO: Hybrid Working: How to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Close-up shot of Accor’s Chris Mills in white shirt and dark suit jacket, smiling and with one arm resting on the back of a chair. 

Chris Mills, Vice President Digital and Loyalty, Accor 

Chris Mills says leading a team with members based in different locations comes down to recognising that everyone has a different approach to (and idea of) what work-life balance is and what it means for them.  

“When it comes to work-life balance, I think we’re all becoming more empowered to structure our work in a way that allows us to be at our best. COVID-19 was an event that really tested workplaces, and I think a positive outcome has been the trust and performance that employees were able to demonstrate in completing work in a more flexible approach rather than the traditional 9-to-5 office setting. Organisations now have a responsibility to challenge outdated practices and look for ways to deliver meaningful work-life balance policies that support their teams, and hopefully provide a point of difference that can assist in retaining the best talent. 

“Hospitality as an industry never stops; our role is to ensure that we can provide a safe and welcoming environment, 24/7. This can be perceived as challenging by potential employees, but work-life balance is something that needs to be discussed individually – no two people are the same and they are unlikely to be motivated or supported in the same way. At Accor we have implemented Work Your Way, which meets people where they are at and provides flexibility. Some examples of initiatives that have worked among my team include sharing calendar invites to acknowledge when time-in-lieu is being taken, avoiding meetings before 10am and being location agnostic. 

“This allowed us to recruit and retain great people while providing them with the work-life balance they were seeking to be located close to family and friends. [As a result,] I now have two of my team based in Perth. However, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone will view these kinds of policies as beneficial or positive, and we need to cater for that as well.”

SEE ALSO: Expert Advice to Make Hybrid Working Work For Your Business

Make working from anywhere work for your business

Flexiworks, part of Officeworks, is an online platform helping organisations support their team to work from anywhere. Provide employees with credit and let them shop a tailored Officeworks range.