FAQ work life balance
Why work life balance is important?
For sure, it is difficult to juggle a career and one's personal life, especially if there are family and friends involved. That does not mean, however, that it cannot be done. Achieving work-life balance is a challenge, but it is one that anyone can rise to.
The changing landscape of how we work has a significant impact on the work-life balance. Remote work is here, which means that we are more connected and that although we benefit from more flexibility, we might risk blurring the boundaries between work and life.
Let's look at why work-life balance is important
- It prevents burnout
Employee burnouts are costly and lead to lower productivity rates within the business. It might create discontinuity due to talent turnover.
- It increases employee engagement and productivity
People that have a solid work-life balance are happy to go the extra mile and work harder than those who don't.
- It creates a healthy workforce
People that are healthy are physically fit, plus mentally and emotionally healthy.
- It prevents work stress
The result of a poor balance between personal life and work affects your people and the companies. Due to stress, absenteeism might increase, and the relationships between the staff might encounter drawdowns, impacting job satisfaction.
- Improve employer branding
Suppose your organization emphasizes employee balance and satisfaction. In that case, customers will perceive your employees as valuable assets, and prospective job seekers will see your organization as having the edge over other companies.
How to maintain work life balance?
Maintain a journal and create a timetable
You can start small. Write down all the activities that you perform in a week, from Monday to Sunday. When we say "all activities", this includes those that are work-related and personal life-related. Writing things down in a journal helps in making things more concrete and resolute. In case you are confused about what to do, you can simply consult your journal and be reminded.
By creating a schedule, you will have a better picture of what to expect in the week to come. This will mentally prepare you for anything that may come up at work or at home. It will also put a semblance of order into things, so you do not find yourself flailing about aimlessly, with no direction.
Insert a downtime in your schedule
No matter how busy you will be in the coming week, make sure to build some downtime into it. It could be time spent with family and friends, or you could insert some relaxing activities that you can do by yourself.
The purpose of this downtime is to let you recharge, gather your bearings, and "catch your breath", so to speak, especially if it has been a particularly busy week at work. This downtime will also give you something to look forward to and anticipate.
Examples of downtime inserted in one's schedule are an hour-long yoga class at the end of the day, swimming several laps at the pool right before breakfast, or going for a run in the early hours of the morning before taking a shower and heading off to work.
Do not give the “I don't have time” reason. “I don't have time to even have a morning run" or “I don't have time for a yoga class after work before heading home”. Make time. That is why you have to be more proactive in your scheduling.
Organize your tasks efficiently
This goes for both household chores and work tasks. At home, if you are used to doing your laundry every day, you can probably schedule it every two days or three days, or during the weekend.
When you are going to shop for your groceries and household supplies, list down everything you need so you can purchase them all at one go, dispensing the need to go on multiple trips to the supermarket every time you need something.
Who is responsible for work life balance?
A healthy attitude towards the work-life balance begins with the employer. The employers must view themselves not as the highest authority in the life of employees, but rather as a team member, that encourages a healthy lifestyle.
However, managers still struggle to find the right balance between a fulfilling personal life and a healthy amount of discipline in the workplace. The question often arises: how much freedom should one give their employees and how much discipline is required in the workplace? Companies that operate on a very “loose” basis run the risk of the employees taking advantage of the generosity of the employer, which may then lead to negligence, and lack of discipline. On the other hand, companies with aggressive micromanagement have a high rate of labor turnover.
At the end of the day, the employee is also responsible for achieving a satisfactory work-life balance. After all, we are talking about striking a balance, as opposed to a disregard for work in favor of a more casual lifestyle, with the family playing the main role in the employee's life.
What are some myths about work-life balance?
We cover below some of the typical work fallacies that kill productivity and cause individuals to spend excessive amounts of time at work, leaving no time for life.
- Work-life balance means that work and life blend together as one
That's the first misconception one would make when hearing for the first time about this concept. In reality, it is exactly the opposite: balancing means establishing and considering clear boundaries between work and private life.
- Work-life balance means having equal amounts of time of each
In this case, balance does not mean equal. Imagine you are spending eight hours working in an office than spending another eight hours socializing or playing. You can do it one day or two days, but it simply is impossible to do it every day.
- Work-life balance is the same all the time
Our lives are constantly changing. We have certain priorities in our 20s when all our lives seem to lay ahead of us. But, as we grow older, our priorities are changing. Therefore, what mattered in our youth is different than what's really important now.
- What works for one, works for all
There is no general formula for the work-life balance. Every person is unique, people have different priorities and lifestyle choices, and therefore they have varying approaches to obtaining and maintaining the balance between their work and personal life.
What are some takeaways from work-life balance studies?
It is not a surprise that researches demonstrate very clearly that a balanced work-life is the base for a successful career and a satisfying personal life.
If we do not take time to recharge and are totally focused on work, we risk exhaustion and won't be as effective as someone that balances their life properly. The problem is that instead of our minds and bodies telling us we need to cut back, they adapt. But only to a certain extent. Eventually, the long hours take their toll and we end up exhausted, stressed, and burnt out.
According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, in 2008, 94% of 1,000 people working in professional services (consultants, investment bankers, accountants, lawyers, IT, and the like) said they put in 50 or more hours a week, with nearly half that group turning in more than 65 hours a week. That doesn't include the 20 to 25 hours a week most of them spend monitoring their smartphones while outside the office. And things have gotten worse since then.
The brain needs to disconnect occasionally, it needs time to process what it just has learned. Psychologist K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University has spent more than 30 years studying how people achieve the highest levels of expertise. Ericsson has concluded that most people can engage in deliberate practice for only an hour without rest. He also has shown that people can commit themselves to only four or five hours of concentrated work at a time before they stop getting things done. Past the peak performance level, output tends to flatline, or sometimes even suffer.
Outside of work, it's important that you keep strong relationships with significant others and friends. Be default, we are gregarious, therefore having a strong support system is one of the keys to being happier in life.
But lately, we have made our jobs so much a part of our lives and our identity that breaking up with them seems impossible. Comparing our relationship to work to a passionate romantic one, Gianpiero Petriglieri, organizational behavior professor at INSEAD, writes:
“Romance has long been known for making us lose our minds. It is no different when work is involved…We 'over' work not when we work too hard but when working becomes less of a means and more of an end. When meditation, exercise, sleep, holidays, and even parenting, are cast as tools to make us better workers.”
According to numerous studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including:
- Impaired sleep
- Depression / Anxiety
- Heavy drinking
- Impaired memory
- Heart diseases.
The balancing act between work and home life can feel overwhelming at times. It's crucial for workers to do what they can to avoid overworking themselves and striking a healthy balance between home and career. And it's equally important for employers to promote a healthy work-life balance for their employees. We hope that these tips help you to achieve some balance in your lives.
What we know is that all sides benefit from a work-life balance. Our performance-oriented society all too often disregards the importance of the “happy employee” principle, which still causes confusion and skepticism in some levels of management. This is due to competition and the fact that every important link in the chain must function to remain competitive - especially in terms of the so-called shortage of skilled workers and demographic developments.
Something that is often misunderstood is the fact that employees are not machines that can work incessantly during the day and simply fill their tanks at home at night to repeat it all again the next day. In most cases, people work to live and not the other way around.
Remember that work and life coexist: wellness at work follows you home and a healthy private life accompanies you at the workplace. Work and life are not opposing forces trying to break the balance. On the contrary, they go hand in hand, mixing and blending as two parts of a whole: YOU!