How employers can improve work-life balance: Our story

We have found that getting the work-life balance right is a shared responsibility between employers and employees.
15 December 2016

Balancing your work and lifestyle can be hard - dividing your time fairly and concentrating on your wellbeing can be even harder. The Mental Health Foundation reported that nearly three in every 10 employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year and this is set to increase. So what are employers doing about this?

In order to feel balanced it’s vital that we do more to improve our time at work. Influential speaker and writer, Nigel Marsh, said at a TED event: “My contention is that going to work on a Friday in jeans and a t-shirt [dress-down Friday] isn’t really getting to the nub of the issue.” Nigel believes that to be truly balanced you need to nurture your relationships, your work and yourself.

Fitness has long been at the heart of Central YMCA’s work and, like many other companies, employees are given free access to London’s largest gym at YMCA Clubl. But is focusing solely on our physical fitness enough to really make us feel fulfilled?

Work-related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year.
Source: Mental Health Foundation

Not according to Nigel, who also said: “Being a fit 10 hour a day office rat isn’t being more balanced, it’s being more fit. [...] There are other parts to life. There’s the intellectual side, there’s the emotional side, there’s the spiritual side. And to be balanced, I believe, we have to attend to all those areas”.

This is something we want to get right at Central YMCA. We believe it’s important that we all find ways to maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit. To help with this, and to ensure that our employees are emotionally healthy, we provide an exclusive hotline for stress, mental health, legal and financial problems. Our HR Director, Lindsay Gallard explains: “If you are suffering from stress, going away from work won’t cure it. You need to be taught the practical skills to change the way you manage it and communicate it. You don’t have to deal with that on your own. Most jobs come with their own pressures and sources of stress, so it is important that employees are given the tools to deal with that in a healthy way.”

By making support like this more accessible, we’re enabling our employees to deliver when they are at work and be happier when they are at home.

“You need to think: how can I do what I need to do within my working hours? You need to work smarter in order to be able to maintain a work-life balance.”
Lindsay Gallard, Central YMCA HR Director

In October 2016 our Eudaimonia report found that spending time with your family could boost your happiness by 56%. This research speaks to employers as they have the power to dramatically increase employees’ wellbeing by providing simple things such as support with childcare, workload management and flexible working hours.

“The small things matter,’ says Nigel Marsh.“With the smallest investment in the right places you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life. Moreover, it can transform society because if enough people do it we can change society’s definition of success to a more thoughtful definition of what a life well lived looks like.”

We, as employees, can also learn how to do our bit too. Lindsay says that to make room for these investmentsyou need to think: “How can I do what I need to do within my working hours? You need to work smarter in order to be able to maintain a work-life balance.

Work and life are both very important - they provide mental stimulation, relationships and stability. To lead a healthy and balanced life, we need to attend to all areas equally. At Central YMCA, as part of our Eudaimonia campaign, we are developing ways to help employees have the best perspective of themselves, their lives and their work. Businesses who are interested in improving the wellbeing of their staff will also be able to use these tools. We will be announcing more about these exciting plans in 2017.

In your business is interested in improving the fitness and wellbeing of your staff, get in touch about corporate gym memberships at