Time for a change?
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‘Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living’, Dolly Parton was ahead of her time back in 1980 when she cheered for more flexible working hours. Today, the former rigid schedules for white-collar workers have given way to more flexibility. Yet, to maintain the work-life balance, it’s vital employees keep track of their worktime. Time registration allows exactly that.
First, let’s set the record straight: it’s not just working millennials who crave more flexible working schedules. Every generation seeks a healthy work-life balance, but millennials are most eager to demand it from their employers. They want more time for a life outside work. Conversely, it’s the same group that sometimes struggles to deconnect, making them prone to stress and burn-out. Hence, attractive employers not only offer customised worktime arrangements, they also ensure employees have the right tools to make these succeed.
In early 2022, SD Worx and Protime interviewed some 5,500 employees from ten European countries to gain insights into how they manage their working hours. Just over half of European white-collar workers (53%) report having flexible hours. Finland, Germany and the Netherlands are the frontrunners. What’s more, the figures showed that a growing group of employees even consider worktime arrangements as the number one reason to choose employer A over employer B.
However, all this flexibility has a downside. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not that straightforward for everyone. Our research revealed that many employees find themselves working more hours than they officially should and have difficulties disconnecting in their leisure time. For example, 41% of those surveyed admit to checking work-related emails or answering work-related phone calls after hours. In Norway, this rises to 56%, a stark contrast to Germany where 3 in 10 white-collar workers sporadically engage with work-related calls or emails after hours. When it comes to working overtime, France is the leader (56%), followed by Belgium (53%) and the Netherlands (53%).
An effective tool to maintain or restore work-life balance is time registration. It basically acts as a heart-rate monitor: it shows your employee when he or she is overdoing it, and when there’s still room to kick it up a notch. The goal: to encourage employee self-management. And not to establish employer control, as some people think. That connotation of control is still a relic of old times when workers needed to punch the clock on their way in and out. Modern-day time registration enables a healthy flow of life and work, as the numbers prove. This is especially true for Dutch white-collar workers (63%), followed by Norwegian and German white-collar workers (57%).
For employees, time-registration tools allow better alignment of individual and team agendas, so no-one gets lumbered with a work overload. At the same time, time data are excellent indicators for managers to verify if their goals and targets are as viable as they first thought. It eliminates the need for guesswork when trying to estimate how long a certain type of activity takes to complete. On top of that, time registration enables them to assist with their team’s work-life balance. So, in the long run, everybody wins.
Giving employees the freedom to manage their own time, and offering them the tools to consciously do so, can greatly impact their work-life balance. Legal constraints are still limiting worktime flexibility, however, the door is already ajar for maximum flexibility. Who knows, once that flexibility is considered a new reality, it might even be extended to introduce a four-day workweek? Whatever lies ahead, the most attractive employers will be those who can turn flexibility into a competitive edge.