Employee Workplace Experience
Where Should The Work-Life Management Line Be Drawn Today?
I am seeing increasing calls today for employers to address the social determinants of health. In addition, in an email Webinar announcement I received today, I read that employers are increasingly shifting their focus from managing the employee work experience to managing the life experiences of their employees.
Reading today’s Webinar announcement reminded me of a question I started asking a while back. How far should an employer insert themselves in the social determinants of their employees’ health? Based on today’s email, I will now start asking: How far should an employer insert themselves in the management of their employees’ life experiences? Where should the work-life management line be today?
I understand that the survey research indicates that employees welcome their employer’s help with their life problems. I also understand the academic research which concludes there is a bi-directional spill-over effect between work and home, as well as home to work. But again I have to ask: Where should the work-life management line be today?
Do employees want their employer’s full involvement in their life and managing their life experiences? I can’t imagine that any employee really does.
For several years now, I have been writing that the words we use matter. In fact, I argue, they matter a lot!
So when it comes to managing the life experiences of employees, just what does the word manage actually mean? Two of the core components of comprehensive, effective and successful worksite wellness/wellbeing programs today are the components of Awareness Building and Knowledge and Skill Enhancement.
But in my mind anyway, there is a huge difference between managing and providing Awareness Building and Knowledge and Skill Enhancement opportunities to employees. To me, managing employee life experiences smacks of paternalism. Rather than father knows best, we now have management knowing best.
Probably 10–15 years ago, based on what I was reading at the time, I started using the term work-life blur. In today’s value added, work from anywhere economy, for many employees, we are certainly seeing the line between work and life becoming blurrier. But does a blurrier work-life line mean employers should become more assertive in managing the life experiences of their employees? Personally, I think not.
As the field of worksite wellness/wellbeing shifts its focus from a singular focus on the physical health of employees to the much broader focus on the many different domains of employee wellbeing, I think there will be an increasing need to address philosophical questions such as where the work-life management line should be. The good news is that over the 20+ years I have been associated with the worksite wellness community, I have encountered many bright and talented practitioners very capable of tackling and helping their employers address these philosophical type questions. I would also suggest that the need to tackle such philosophical questions is why worksite wellness/wellbeing today is still very much an art, as well as a science.
My observations today suggest to me that most employers are doing a very poor job of managing the positive work experiences of their employees. If they can’t manage well the work experiences of their employees, do we really expect they will be any better at managing the life experiences of their employees? Personally, I think not.
From my perspective, let’s be careful what we wish for and promote.
These are my thoughts. Please share with me below your thoughts about employers managing the life experiences of their employees. I would love to hear them….
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