Health checks for staff, greater flexibility at work and volunteering days were among the ideas discussed when 60 Cumbrian businesses came together to thrash out a manifesto of ideas to create a better work-life balance.
The businesses and entrepreneurs got to grips with the issue at the LA23NET business networking group in a discussion that was led by author Claire Brumby who is listed as one of the top ten business speakers in the country.
She knows all about the costs of getting your work-life balance wrong after taking her Scrubbys Crisps brand on to Dragon’s Den where she lost out in a bruising encounter before going on to prove them wrong and make a huge success of the business.
It proved to be at a cost though and after surviving a life-threatening illness she has now established herself as a popular speaker, business coach and best-selling author.
Claire told the attendees: “I don’t think you should have to sell your soul to be a success in business. People talk about a work-life balance, but I like to think of it as a life-work balance.
“As a mum I had to learn to put expectations aside and concentrate on what matters. If my children didn’t go out looking immaculate or dinner wasn’t a three course meal then so what? I am a recovering perfectionist in business too, because I realise that perfection equals stagnation.”
After hearing from Claire the 60 local business people attending the event got the chance to explore the issue and vote on a range of ideas to achieve a better work-life balance. The ideas that got their backing included:
Flexibility in jobs – giving people flexible options, particularly to allow working around commitments with children
Trust – feeling trusted to do the job with a focus on output not the time spent doing it
Boundaries – establishing clear boundaries for when you are working which can be communicated clearly to colleagues and clients – particularly when running your own business
Health checks – introducing health checks for all staff while others have wellbeing days to focus on the importance of taking care of yourself
Culture – leading by example to see that everyone should value a good work-life balance and creating a culture where it is ok to say you need support
Volunteering – taking part in volunteering opportunities can have a positive impact on people’s mental health. It feels good to give back to the local community.
Business coaches – many entrepreneurs at the meeting emphasised the help that coaches and peer to peer support networks can provide.
Solicitor John Osborne, of new sponsors Harrison Drury, spoke at the meeting about the importance of making work-life balance a priority when managing a team.
“As chair of Harrison Drury’s People, Health and Wellbeing Committee I am proud of what we have achieved in helping people achieve a work-life balance. This has ranged from offering free health checks to all staff to discussions around how we manage the workload for team members.”
Chris Shepard, of the Naked Build Company, said that as a business owner he had learned to ‘lean into my vulnerabilities’.
“I’ve had to learn to cope with the chronic condition of fibromyalgia over the years which slows me down and frustrates me sometimes. Then somebody asked me at a workshop ‘what is the rush?’ and it made me ask myself why I was trying to go at a breakneck speed. We’ll get there eventually, let’s make it easier on ourselves.”