Developing Work-Life Balance Practices

Within the international aid and development sector, there may be a number of factors that block the growth and maintenance of a work life balance culture. These will generally affect the overall wellbeing of a workforce. Some of these factors include individual personality traits and management working styles (eg. workaholics, etc), as well as a general perception that the organisation expects a certain way of working. Various HR policies, such as those that relate to annual leave; flexible working practices; special leave arrangements; time off in lieu; and monitoring of working hours may be inconsistently applied by management. As a result, staff may feel unable to take breaks as required and request time off for adequate rest and relaxation.

Other causes would include heavy workloads, lack of resources, lack of cover for vacant posts, insecure environments, hostility of beneficiaries due to unmet needs, poor working relationships with partners, poor infrastructures etc. Stress can accumulate from various sources and this can prevent healthy work life balance practices.
Indications that work-life balance practices are not effective would include the following symptoms being displayed by staff: high sickness absence, poor attitudes, loss of sense of humour, irritability, cynicism, apathy and a general break down in communication and relationships within a team.
Calm-Consulting can help NGOs address the wellbeing within their organisation and offers the following services:
  • Policy and strategy development and implementation
  • Review of existing HR policies and guidelines and other staff support mechanisms
  • Wellbeing risk assessments and/or staff interviews to identify what the causes of stress may be for UK based staff, expatriated staff and national staff. 
  • Review of current working practices and identification of factors that block work/life balance practices. 
  • Development of tailored work/life balance guidelines
  • Development of appropriate monitoring tools ie. Self assessment questionnaires etc and management aid memoirs and/or tools for assessing, managing and supporting staff with stress
  • Facilitation of Workshops (eg. stress awareness, wellbeing, personal resilience and work-life balance)
  • Coaching and mentoring of UK and local HR personnel and other key people to implement guidelines and build capacity of managers
  • Personal 1:1 debriefing sessions and stress and trauma briefings for humanitarian staff preparing for international deployment.
  • Ad hoc stress coaching sessions for staff in the ‘field’ and critical incident debriefs as required.
Calm-Consulting can help NGOs address the wellbeing within their organisation and ensure work-life balance practices are in place but it will mostly be down to management role modelling and staff making changes in their own attitudes and ways of working to avoid burnout. So raising self-awareness amongst staff will be a key component to the overall strategy.
Contact Sian at Calm-Consulting to prevent burnout amongst staff, promote work-life balance practices and build a a caring and supportive working environment.

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The Koru (spiral) respresents peace, tranquility and spirituality, growth, strength and new beginnings The Koru (spiral) represents peace, tranquility, spirituality, growth, strength and new beginnings.