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3 Ways to Help Employees Manage Work-Life Balance with Flexible and Fair Rostering

Mar 5, 2024

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The past few years have shined a spotlight on the prolonged fatigue and burnout employees experience on a global level. Nearly every workplace has people in states of physical and emotional exhaustion.  

Once reserved for high-powered professionals and the military elite, work-related stress and anxiety are now commonplace and are only getting worse (a recent American Psychological Association survey found that 77% of workers experienced work related stress in the last month).1 

Although the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent societal unrest deserve some of the blame, the truth is that modern-day work-life balance has been out of whack for quite some time due to increased occupational pressures, poor rostering practices and overworked employees.  

But with 60% of employees saying they are willing to leave their place of work in the next six months2 (predominantly in hourly, shift-based roles), many organisations find themselves in a unique (and costly) situation and must find ways to improve employees’ work-life balance or risk losing talent.  

Thankfully, employers can improve the work-life balances of employees and increase employee engagement and retention by providing more flexibility and power over their rosters, planning shifts adequately (and in advance) and recognising when employees need a break.  

Here are three ways employers can provide employees with a better work-life balance:  

Provide Flexible Work Arrangements and Easy Access to Shift Swapping

Life happens. Everyone has personal obligations—like childcare or elder support, school, second jobs, or other responsibilities—that prevent them from reporting for work or working a full day.  

Still, our 2023 Global Employee Experience Study found that 69% of employers believed they were providing rostering flexibility. Meanwhile, 40% of employees still needed to contact their managers via email, SMS, or messaging platforms to obtain roster information.2 

The rise of remote work has forced organisations to confront their preconceptions about traditional work arrangements and their impact on productivity. Now, it’s spilling into other areas outside of the traditional office or 9-to-5 roster.  

Flexible work arrangements—like compressed work weeks, where people work 40 hours over four days instead of five or adjust their start or end times (or which days to work) based around personal needs and circumstances—are gaining popularity.  

Benefits of flexible work arrangements include:   

  • Reduced absenteeism  
  • Higher productivity  
  • Improved retention and talent acquisition  
  • Increased job satisfaction  
  • Higher employee engagement  

By giving employees more flexibility and power over their rosters—whether that’s through accessible, easily modifiable calendars or standardised, streamlined practices for shift swapping and submitting time-off requests—employers can foster a better work-life balance, enhance the employee experience and ensure employees have time to deal with personal and professional obligations.  

Offer Fair and Predictive Rostering

When your workers know their rosters in advance they can plan their lives accordingly—that’s true both professionally and during dedicated time away from work. 

Predictive rostering (aka secure or fair rostering) is when an employer provides an employee with advance notice of their roster. It’s not only a best practice for many organisations but a law in many U.S. states and local, domestic and international jurisdictions.  

There are incentives for employers outside of simply following the rules and complying with legal requirements. By knowing their rosters in advance, employees can feel more in control of their lives and often report higher job satisfaction due to the increased job stability and predictability. It can also lead to occasional financial gains (in some areas, employers must provide additional compensation if a shift gets canceled unexpectedly or a start time is adjusted less than 72 hours in advance).  

Identify Fatigue and Make It Easy to Process Time-Off Requests

Burnout is on the rise globally—a recent American Psychological Association survey found that 57% experienced negative impacts associated with burnout from work-related stress.1 Meanwhile, a 2023 survey by Axios found that 43% of Americans take less paid time off than is offered by their employer.3 

Employees are prone to sacrifice time-off and breaks based on a variety of specific and implied factors, including:  

  • Fear of falling behind  
  • An inability to disconnect outside of work  
  • A lack of co-workers to cover their jobs  
  • Think taking more time off might hurt their chances for job advancement 
  • Think they might risk losing their job if they take more time off 
  • Manager or supervisor discourages them from taking time off 

But a lack of time to recuperate and recharge can negatively impact employee productivity, affect retention and lead to lower customer satisfaction, among other problems.  

Employers can use fatigue management systems (as well as recent advancements in AI) to monitor the number of hours worked, tasks performed and breaks taken, as well as previously rostered time off and combine that data to flag employees who may be at risk of becoming fatigued or prone to burnout.  

Meanwhile, streamlining paid/personal time-off or leave of absence requests can give employees more control over their work-life balances while alerting employers to staffing and rostering gaps.  

Meet WorkForce Performance

High-performing teams operate with agility and power leading organisations. To help them perform at their best, employers need to provide clear expectations and rosters, optimise labour utilisations and costs, automate error-prone and repetitive tasks and streamline time off and approval processes.  

WorkForce Performance ensures your workforce has the right tools for success by forecasting labour demands with machine learning, mitigating risks with predictive and proactive alerts, providing flexible and highly configurable workflows for requests and approvals and more. 

Learn more about how modern workforce management powers the rostering flexibility your organisation needs and your employees expect. 

12023 Work in America Survey, American Psychological Association, April 2023.
2Third Annual Global Employee Experience Survey, WorkForce Software, October 2023.
3Americans Aren’t Taking All of Their Paid Time Off from Work, Axios, March 2023.

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