Those who know me well will understand why I find the recent story about a female professional being asked to leave on her first day of work, after refusing to wear high heels, both hilarious and disturbing.
‘Hilarious’ because although I couldn’t agree more that having a smart appearance is vital in the appropriate environment, I passionately DISAGREE that the height of the heel on your shoe has any significance to how smart you look and more importantly, has any relevance to achieving genuine success.
‘Disturbing’ that on further investigation, it turns out it is still legal for UK companies to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will.
Sorry, are we in 2016 or 1916?
Nicola Thorp (said female professional) has since created a petition to request for the law to be changed, so companies can no longer force women to wear high heels to work. It seems she’s not alone in her view as more than 100,000 UK citizens have backed her proposal so far. This could potentially go to parliament for discussion.
This imbalance of equality at work leads me naturally onto the subject of wellbeing at work and how important it is we ensure the person/company we work for has similar values to ours.
Obviously any company that pays staff wages has the pressure of ensuring their team performs. How they go about administering that performance is the critical point.
Would the company you aspire to work for ‘make the cut’ if you were to interview them?
Do they believe in squeezing oversized workloads into unrealistic timescales?
How do they react when employees are unable to work due to sickness, maternity leave, bereavement?
Do they offer the flexibility to take time in lieu in return for busy periods?
Is there the opportunity to have a break away from your desk, where you can breathe fresh air, relax and return fully refreshed?
Are you expected to arrive earlier and leave later than your contracted hours?
Granted, it’s not easy to find the answers to these questions during the interview process and you run the risk of upsetting the apple cart before you’ve even been selected if you directly ask a company that generally doesn’t give a $#*#!
Then again, if you do ask and the process stops there, you’ve potentially saved yourself valuable time, in that you wouldn’t really gel with their environment anyway. Here are a few tips to help you get a little insight before you accept employment.
Whether the company you work for has a ‘wellbeing’ policy or not or if you work for yourself, there are many ways you can take responsibility for managing your own work-life balance. You can:
- Manage your time so your day is as productive as it can be and you don’t feel pressured to arrive early or stay on after hours. Apparently The Danes work to a 8am–4pm working day and remain just as productive.
- Take regular breaks from your computer. Give your eyes time to recover by making a cuppa, following up a question someone asked from the other side of the office, returning someone’s call from earlier that day or literally walking around the office building to get your blood circulating fully again. It’s common knowledge why breaks are good for you.
- Vow not to take work home with you. Switch off email alerts and avoid answering calls that come in after work hours (easier said than done due to the link between business and leisure activity on our phones now they have better facilities). Believe it or not, this is something France are currently considering making law.
- Organise specific activity or commitments after work so that you have no choice but to leave on time. Watch Nigel Marsh’s TED talk on how to make work-life balance work for a heart warming example of this.
Work environments that involve shifts, changeable locations, and more formal processes are a little more difficult to control. In fact, it’s often more common for these type of employers to have already adopted ‘staff wellbeing’ policies as a necessity to protect their workforce.
Whether this is fueled by a passion to care for the individual or simply to safeguard their bottom line, I’m unable to comment.
The subject of work-life balance is one of much debate, accompanied by way too many tips and tricks versus little action I fear. That said, I have personally benefited from putting many of them into place, when both employed and self-employed.
Try to take a little time out, digest just a few and see how they make you feel.
This article first appeared on www.lifeseeker.wales