Balancing expectations and communication reduces tensions between splitters and blenders.
Managers are experiencing a new challenge as they try to cater to employees who fall into two different categories of work: splitters and blenders. A recent Gallup survey revealed a distinct divide: where splitters prefer a clear separation between work and life, while blenders would rather blend work and life throughout the day. With the increase in hybrid work, some would assume blenders are the beneficiaries, but it is a mixed bag.
Some managers are finding it difficult to satisfy both groups’ work-life balance needs. Luckily, managers do not have to pick a side between the two groups. Instead, both sides can work with open communication, flexible scheduling, and clear expectations.
Open communication is the most important factor in successfully managing splitters and blenders. A Gallup survey found that only 7 percent of workers strongly agree that communication is accurate, timely, and open at their workplace. Managers must understand each person’s preference or work style, especially whether they are a splitter or a blender, because in a hybrid situation, managers may need to take a more active role in communicating to employees to maintain employee engagement. This can be done with regular email updates and employee check-ins, as well as transparency and responsiveness to employee grievances.
Managers should remember that anyone can experience hurdles due to their preferred work-life balance style. This is most obvious when a blender cannot attend early meetings due perhaps to school drop-off and when splitters are asked to work outside typical office hours. Regardless of the situation, managers should encourage teams to communicate any struggles they may have with work-life balance and offer solutions. Employees and managers should keep in mind this is an ongoing conversation where collaboration and transparency are crucial to making staggered schedules or blocked focus-time work. It is important for a manager to create opportunities for employees to voice any concerns, including bringing up issues if they see team members struggling to perform their job alongside personal obligations.
Flexible scheduling is another possible answer to satisfying both splitters and blenders. This concept allows employees the freedom to choose their working hours if they complete their work, attend mandatory meetings, and can still collaborate with team members. If your business model doesn’t allow for flexible scheduling, another option is to allow flex time. Flex time gives employees the leeway, for example, to sign on an hour early so they can sign off an hour early.
Flexible scheduling has the potential to boost the morale of a splitters-blenders team that struggles to work together due to their different outlook on work-life balance. When offered, 87 percent of workers will work flexible hours, according to McKinsey’s 2022 American Opportunity Survey.
For flexible scheduling to be successful, employees must clearly understand their weekly working hour expectations. This may require employees to track their working hours to ensure they are maintaining the mandatory threshold of a full-time employee (FTE), which can have an impact on FTE status, benefits, and other legal considerations. Beyond legalities, tracking hours helps maintain a fair and equal working environment.
Managers need to set clear expectations with employees for the working world of splitters and blenders to work. If the traditional construct of the office is no longer in play, employees need to understand the parameters and how they will be evaluated on their job performance. Hybrid work arrangements are challenging the age-old measure of employee punctuality. Employers may allow their employees to work the hours they choose so long as they meet their 40-hour workweek obligation. Some team managers may allow employees to set a daily schedule but expect consistency in scheduling from week to week. Other expectations may be considered, such as meeting project deadlines, meeting specific deliverable quotas, and other measures of performance.
It’s important for managers to clearly outline what constitutes tardiness and how many work hours are expected each week. Whether employees are required to let managers know their work schedule each week or they have full control over their working hours, it should be outlined clearly in writing as a part of the company’s official policy. Otherwise, if expectations are not set, employees may resent one another for taking advantage of the flexible schedule.
Although it may appear challenging to manage the needs of splitters and blenders, the right strategy can bring the two together with ease. The hybrid era truly boils down to increased communication and more engaged managers.