How some Suffolk companies are marking ‘Work-Life Balance Week’

Emma Gunton and her team

Emma Gunton and her team - Credit: Archant

From the company that’s organised ‘know who you sit next to’ treasure hunts and vegan facials, to another that celebrates work-life balance by only employing part time staff

Yoga class

Yoga class - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The week, which runs until Friday, is an opportunity for both employers and employees in Suffolk to get behind wellbeing at work and work-life balance.

Concertus, a design and property consultants based in Ipswich, has a range of healthy activities lined up for its employees, from a ‘Know who you sit next to’ treasure hunt and lunchtime walks, to smoothie bikes, yoga, vegan facials and massages.

IT manager Jonathan Burl explained: “Health and wellbeing week is a great opportunity for members of staff to try new activities, improve their nutritional health and boost self-confidence. The week has started well with a large number of people enjoying their ride on the smoothie bike.

“The giant picnic on Friday will be a lovely way to finish the week.”

The HR and Talent Specialists Waddington Brown, based in Claydon, has also pledged its support to National Work Life Week.

Managing director Emma Gunton employs all her staff on a part time, flexible basis, and believes that both employers and employees should be mindful of the importance of a healthy work life balance not just this week, but all year round.

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She explained: “I set up my business 12 years ago when my children were both young, and it has been built around everyone working part time. I persuaded people to come and work for my fledgling start up in exchange for flexible working.”

Ms Gunton argues that for employers, getting this right is no longer a matter of simply complying with legislation or fulfilling minimum obligations. “Employers who aren’t family friendly are finding themselves left behind, both in terms of being an employer of choice and in business agility. Money is not the only matter which is important to employees.”

But while work life balance is a hot topic right now, with the Labour party currently considering plans for a four day working week, many workers still find the current reality somewhat different.

Ali Hobson, who runs Little Signers Club in Suffolk, says most of the mothers she sees have gone back to work part time or not at all, “because of lack of employer flexibility.” “Past experience working in the corporate world and now running my own business and speaking to many mums who are due go back to work, I think sadly the phrase ‘work life balance’ is not fully understood by most organisations, and becomes a bit of a token statement.”

Mandie Holgate is a professional speaker who has been employed in Suffolk to deliver speaking engagements and training around the theme of work life balance. She claims that staff are understandably wary of many “games” and ideas that “box them up”. “When you actively listen and engage on their level you can discover the underlying fears that impact on work/life balance, such as the fear of looking lazy, what people think, saying no and losing your job.

“Handled well, these opportunities do not just help the individual, they help the organisation to be more successful too and you can even reduce mental health ill health.”