To achieve a work-life balance means maintaining a healthy equation between work and personal life. Due to hectic jobs and competition within organizations, nowadays it has become difficult for some employees to balance the time spent at the office and at home. This is more likely if they work overtime, commute long distances or have a lot of personal responsibilities.
Prioritizing personal and professional activities comes under an individual’s management skills. Wherein one should know how to manage both together without hampering either.
An ideal work-life balance is a vast topic for discussion. As per Paul Krassner, it is happiness in an individual’s professional and personal life.
Due to the deep penetration of technology, it sometimes becomes impossible to give 100 per cent at home and work both and hence work-life balance is a topical issue. Earlier, there was a clear line between professional and personal life, employees rarely used to take work home. Now, while technology is helping employees the world over to stay connected, it is also bringing in the additional baggage of them not being able to leave their work at the office.
Work-life balance consists of conflict-free functioning and equilibrium between the professional and personal aspects of individuals. Work-life balance is the extent to which any individual is equally engaged and satisfied with her/his work role and gets ample time for family too. To understand this better, let’s go in contrast – work-life conflict is defined as a lack of fit between employees’ professional and personal responsibilities.
Hence, in some of the definitions of work-life balance, the absence of work-life conflict is mandatory.
The terms ‘work-family balance’ and ‘work-life balance’ are often used interchangeably. Work-life balance holds a broader concept that leads to positive outcomes such as increased performance and high commitment. On the contrary, work-life imbalance results in negative behaviour of employees such as job burnout, emotional exhaustion and low commitment. One of the major consequences of work-life imbalance is its effect on the turnover of a company. Besides, a work-life imbalance is associated with job dissatisfaction which, in turn, leads to negative outcomes such as lack of concentration, and mistakes resulting in poor performance.
Work-life balance has become a focus area for today’s organizations and employees, featuring in several academic as well as workspace corporate. Technological advancements have given birth to specific customers’ demands. Henceforth, it has changed previous working patterns and has challenged individuals’ work-life balance. Today, a distinct traditional border between work and personal life has become blurred.
Technological advancements such as communication technologies (emails) do not let employees detach entirely from work when they are at home or with their families. Additionally, many changes in the increasing demography of the workforce have led to more work-life conflict during the past decades.
An imbalance between personal life and work life can have serious or adverse effects on the health and well-being of employees. This imbalance usually occurs when the boundaries are not clear between the professional and personal facets of one’s life. Commonly known as work-life imbalance, this could lead to emotional stress, depression and anxiety.
The terminology may sound inconsequential to some, but the employee work-life imbalance results in some utterly damaging outcomes. Some of them are –
Do you Live to work, or work to live?
It is pivotal for employers to limit the burden of responsibility on their employees and help them in prioritizing tasks. Companies should support employees to establish a good work-life balance that is right for their health as well as that of their loved ones.
Following are the work-life balance advantages for employees –
A good work-life balance enables staff to feel more protected, safe and satisfied in their job leads to –
Before we go on to dispel the myth that “work-lifestyle balance” exists. We would want to clarify what precisely work-life balance for employees means. Balance does not mean 50-50. A work-life balance can be achieved when one feels fulfilled at work and in their life.
The concept is reflexive. Fulfilment in life impacts work and work impacts fulfilment. Just as lifestyle impacts fulfilment and vice versa. Thus, in any scenario, fulfilment is supreme and is at the core of feeling balanced. It can help to examine one’s professional needs (career, ambition, etc.) along with the amalgamation with lifestyle (health, family, relationships, spirituality, and time-off) about their personal life and work lifestyle.
If an employee feels like they are simply doing the same work like a wheel, they might never feel balanced in life.
Employees feel valued when employers empower them to manage their own time. This can be as simple as knowing they can finish early, get their timetable fixed to see a physician or go and pursue their passion after office hours. Employers, at the same time, should give flexibility to employees to leave timely or provide flexible timing if the situation demands it.
In today’s time, leaves are no longer a luxury but more of a necessity. It is high time that employers realize how leaves are an important part of today’s work culture. There can be any family emergencies, health issues or unavoidable hazards. Letting the employees take paid leaves without sacrificing their compensation builds trust for the employers and employees feel more relaxed after returning to work, and work with more concentration and better productivity.
Most working parents, whose children are toddlers or primary school goers, find it difficult to manage office and home and are mostly found juggling between responsibilities. It becomes even more difficult when both parents are working professionals and they have to choose between work and personal life. Managing both responsibilities can severely affect their careers; sometimes, it can also lead to setbacks and stop their progress.
A responsible employer should never let it happen to well-deserving employees and should plan for childcare facilities within the office premises or close by.
One of the healthiest work-life balance tips for employees should be by setting up expectations of when the work is to be done and in how much time frame. It helps to boost productivity and retention. To maintain a highly productive and happy workplace, if it is a service provider, it’s important to set clear boundaries between employees and clients in terms of working hours, holidays, weekends, week offs etc.
Setting up clear boundaries helps to foster productive work hours and align clients’ expectations and should be a part of employee retention strategy.
When an employee is on vacation or on leave, his/ her time should be respected, and work-related calls should not be made by either party. Some companies mandate paid time off yearly. It helps employees to reboot and return to work with more efficiency and interest. Even the most committed employee needs time away from their job to relax and clear themselves away from the job pressures. After taking some time away from the job, employees return more motivated, more productive and with a new level of commitment.
Inviting families to work brings positivity and a collaborative environment. Activities like birthday or work anniversary celebrations, monthly get-togethers, praise parties (employees’ children’s accomplishments), talent shows etc. can bring employees together as they get to meet family members, socialize and know about each other better.
Many companies have started hosting events like ‘grandparents day’ and inviting elderlies to the company and introducing them to others. Celebrations like Halloween, Christmas, etc. are also been celebrated in the companies with families.
Some companies conduct business-related contests and sponsor an entire family trip for the winners.
Many companies have embraced technology to foster flexible working hours for their employees. By trusting your employees and allowing them some space so that they can bring value to work and productivity as per their convenient timelines should be initiated by employers. Secondly, for instance – permission for work from home due to an emergency or permission to leave early should be given to employees. It brings trustworthiness among employees and they work efficiently without any pressure.
Companies that support work-life balance give time-off leaves so that employees don’t feel exhausted and feel less burnout time. It enhances their performance. Establishing a healthy work-life balance lets employees enjoy their jobs to the fullest, gives them higher job satisfaction and maintains a healthy lifestyle too.
When employees are engaged in projects, they are focussed at work and are relatively less stressed, and that makes them more productive and helps them to collaborate effectively.
When companies allow flexibility at work, employees feel less burdened and are less likely to get sick. Employees health is maintained when they get a cool and supportive environment to work.
If the team members are supportive employees are less burdened and it helps in achieving work-life balance. As a result, they perform better at work and it increases their chance of getting ahead in their careers and they show more interest in work.
Employees working under pressure are more suceptible to mental ailments like stress and anxiety. It is a known fact that demotivated employees tend to lose their temper and focus at work and decrease their productivity.
As a result, organizations, too, suffer from the challenges of an unproductive workforce. A healthy work-life balance eliminates this issue to a greater extent. When employees feel more relaxed and satisfied at work, they work with focus and mindfulness, delivering the best results.
Companies conducting programmes like family gatherings increase the chances for employees to socialize, get to know about their colleagues’ lives. Employees who feel respected and recognized in the company are better motivated to bring innovation to work as well as collaboration among employees.
Fostering a work-life balance for your employees should be done creatively and with discipline. Maintaining the work-life balance of employees should be a priority for every company. It helps in employee satisfaction and productivity while improving the company’s employer value proposition. So, as a company, why not try some of the examples above and reap the rewards for your organization?