Forget work-life balance, focus on quality of life

Written by
Michel Landel

23 Oct 2017

23 Oct 2017 • by Michel Landel

Michel Landel, CEO of services firm, Sodexo, is on a mission to encourage employers to stop thinking about employee ‘work-life balance’ and start considering ‘quality of life’ instead.

The working world has changed. 24/7 technology means that people expect information anytime, anywhere, impacting the way we live and work. The traditional nine to five is becoming a thing of the past and, with it, companies need to adapt to the requirements and lifestyles of their employees.

Work life balance and flexible working have become popular terms for business leaders and employees themselves when discussing employee satisfaction, but that is just part of the story. Many businesses are starting to recognise that in order to attract and retain talent they must do more for the women and men of their organisation.

This is where the concept ‘quality of life’ can become more of a priority for businesses. We should consider how economic, environmental and societal changes are impacting quality of life for employees and what we can do to enhance it.

People want to work for engaged and responsible companies that respect work-life balance and their life as a whole. Studies into workplace trends have found that issues such as working environment, wellness offerings and sustainability credentials are increasingly important to today’s workforce and can influence people’s decisions to stay with an employer – just as much as the salary. 

The next frontier of performance

I believe that quality of life is the next frontier of workplace performance to drive people’s engagement. Quite simply, if you invest in quality of life programmes you will see an impact on performance, whether that’s consumer satisfaction or employee efficiency, improved sales performance or enhanced reputation with external stakeholders.

So, how can you ensure that you're a frontrunner in this constantly evolving area? Quality of life encompasses everything and anything that demonstrates a genuine interest and investment in people, and looking at what can be done to enhance their daily life. This could include flexible working hours for parents doing the school run, free gym memberships or healthy food to encourage healthier lifestyles, or tailored training to help someone develop their personal or professional skills.

But, with an increase in state pension age, it could also involve helping older workers maintain or change their careers. It could include changes to the way you communicate with your people.

Define your purpose

Successful brands define and share their purpose with employees, that goes beyond the products or services they provide, whether that is socially or environmentally. This gives workers a sense of purpose in what they do.

At our second Quality of Life conference in London we spent two days with leaders from a broad range of sectors – corporate, health, defence and education along with think tanks, public authorities, and NGOs – in which we collaborated and challenged current models. By bringing together such a varied audience, we will now move forwards in driving measurable change across multiple sectors.

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t build a successful, sustainable company without a genuine interest in improving the lives of employees. Those that embrace quality of life today will no doubt lead the charge in their industries tomorrow.