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Time for a work-life balance reset

Bupa Global’s Executive Wellbeing Index reveals UK business leaders will encourage flexible schedules and greater commitment to wellbeing in the year ahead

UK business leaders are shoring up commitments to work-life balance amid unprecedented challenges with recruitment and retention.

Research* shows that work-life balance has been a ‘daily worry’ on the minds of UK senior leaders over the past year1. As a result they are taking major steps to redress imbalances caused by the pandemic; both for themselves and their workforce.

(Never not) working from home
With ‘digital tethers’ making it hard to maintain boundaries, particularly when working from home, UK business leaders are committing to checking emails less frequently outside of working hours or even formally managing down their hours2. And one in four (24%) are heading back to the office on a more regular basis to benefit their mental health.

UK leaders are also upweighting their focus on life outside of work. Two in five (39%) executives have said they will consciously choose to spend more time with friends and family this year, with the same number pledging to exercise more or improve their diet (33%) in order to boost their wellbeing.

Setting a new agenda
This new attitude is setting a new workplace agenda for the UK. Amid the ‘Great Resignation’ and in a white-hot labour market, many believe work-life balance is key to maintaining a happy, healthy workforce. As such, UK business leaders plan to introduce measures such as more flexible working patterns, better benefits for parents and more support for mental health and wellbeing3 for their workforce. A quarter (26 per cent) are even considering introducing a four-day working week.

Anthony Cabrelli, Managing Director of Bupa Global said: “Even prior to the pandemic, boundaries between work and life became extremely blurred. It is therefore encouraging to see business leaders taking the lead when it comes to work-life balance, particularly as we move into a new hybrid way of working.

“In this competitive landscape, setting out strong commitments to employee wellbeing will help UK PLC attract the brightest and best – crucial for post-pandemic recovery.”

Insurance: support requests increasing
The mental health impact of the pandemic on the workforce is yet to be fully known, and the Index goes on to reveal that business leaders in the UK are increasingly recognising the benefits of private medical insurance for themselves and their people. Over half of UK business leaders (56%) plan to purchase additional private medical insurance for themselves or their family in the next year. And when asked what they expect from a medical insurance plan post-Covid, nearly one in three (31%) cited greater cover for mental health support.

Dr Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director of Mental Health for Bupa Global said: “The feeling of having to be ‘always on’ can be damaging to our mental health and lead to exhaustion, stress and burn out, as well as reduced productivity in the long term.  So it’s really important to take active steps to manage our work-life balance. This might mean scheduling hobbies or social events in the evenings to help create boundaries between work and life, or even just switching off your work phone and putting it away when you’re finished for the day. It doesn’t mean you’re not committed or unproductive – instead, it shows you can recognise your limits.”

*Bupa Global – Executive Wellbeing Index

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