With another year unfolding comes new goals and objectives as businesses and organizations finalize plans for the next few months. But business planning and strategy has ceased to be just about setting sales targets and performance metrics: As more companies increasingly become aware of the need to keep employees engaged as a means of ensuring business success, organizations are looking at human resource management and development as a key part of the planning phase.
Employees, whether new to the corporate jungle or a veteran, are for their part also making plans and revisiting career opportunities – or the lack thereof — as these relate to their long-term life goals. This is why it’s no wonder many employees review their prospects in their current workplace or start exploring outside around this time.
As employee satisfaction and engagement climb the list of priorities, the spotlight is turned on work-life integration. This is even more relevant in today’s work environment, with millennials starting to account for the bulk of the workforce. Employees now are more aware of the many opportunities that await them and feel more empowered to make job choices. They look for job satisfaction not just in terms of pay but also, and sometimes even more strongly, in terms of upward mobility, personal growth and creativity.
But what really is work-life integration?
In the fast-paced, oftentimes brutal schedules and workload in the PR industry, working out that blurry line that divides career and personal life is indeed very important. Whereas work-life balance as a concept pits work and personal life as seemingly opposite poles competing for a person’s time, work-life integration is about managing both professional and personal goals simultaneously. Today’s digital-savvy professionals relate to this concept better, knowing that with technology they can actually integrate work and life and still succeed at both.
Here are a few tips toward integrating work and life:
- Optimize the annual company planning to include not just business goals and resource management but also career development, team building and other related matters. Activities that aim to improve relationships within the organization and help individual employees grow both as corporate citizens and individuals should be included in the budget planning for the year.
- Set realistic team goals. This means factoring in resources and capabilities vis à vis targets. If the resources are inadequate, consider investing in training or expanding the workforce instead of (over)maximizing current staff.
- Line up activities that allow employees to relax, bond with each other or simply enjoy their successes at work. These regular get-togethers can be done in or outside the office. Besides the usual birthday, Halloween or other season-based celebrations, these can include videoke sessions, movie time and even community work. The last even provides a break from the confines of the office.
- Review and monitor overtime work. Encourage employees to manage their time better so they can reduce the late hours and instead have more time for their family and personal interests.
- Include time management and similar skill building initiatives in the company’s training program. These will empower employees to handle tasks better and keep to office hours.
- Be creative. If budget and schedule constraints present a hurdle to implementing a comprehensive team-building program, think of simple activities that can incorporate some team-building principles.
Regular team assemblies, for example, can include a few minutes of ice breaker to relax and get to know everyone better. If there are people in the team who can teach dancing lessons or lead a zumba or yoga class, try organizing physical activities of these kinds one or more nights a week even within the office premises.
- Be flexible as an organization. With commute hours in Metro Manila becoming longer and eating more into office time, it might help to consider allowing some team members to telecommute. More companies nowadays adopt a flexible working schedule. Opt for the setup that best suits your operations.
- Make office life rewarding enough. Work-life integration is not simply about having time for personal life. It also means finding satisfaction in one’s work and realizing one’s potential. Recognize employees’ good work and let them know their contributions mean something to the company. Rewarding employees can take the form of incentives such as additional leave benefits, travel or even profit sharing. Sending employees to training outside the office doubles as a break from work.
- Make a plan for the medium term and short term in line with the year’s goals. Based on these plans and immediate work deadlines, create your goals for each day. It’s no rocket science why planners are in such strong demand at the start of each year. They work. For those who don’t want the additional load in their bags, there is a slew of apps for the same purpose that they can easily install in their phones or laptops.
- Manage your schedule wisely. It’s relatively easy to list down tasks for the day. It’s quite another story to actually be able to accomplish most, if not all, and have all items ticked off at the end of each day. It is therefore of utmost importance to learn how to manage all deliverables. One secret is to divide huge projects into smaller tasks that can be done one at a time, building up to the ultimate deadline.
- Delegate. For managers, this is a crucial skill that needs to be mastered. Note, however, that delegating is different from transferring responsibilities or ordering people around. The goal is to finish the task at hand involving more people.
- Work as a team. PR work is mostly teamwork. From conceptualizing proposals to executing events, tasks involve working with a team. Learn to be a team player without compromising your ideas.
Chill. Breathe in. Breathe out. It must be a conscious effort to relax.