Quite simply, work-life balance means being able to separate your professional life from your personal life, having a healthy balance of the two, and not allowing one to cross the line into the other.
Why is a Work-Life Balance Important?
- Reducing Health Problems
Getting work-life balance wrong can have quite catastrophic effects on your health, both mentally and physically. When the balance tilts in the favor of work, “burn out” becomes a huge issue – the hardship of work overtaking your life leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed with the workload, causing chronic stress which will then take over your personal life, further exacerbating the imbalance of your professional and personal life. Suffering from such levels of stress can then cause serious physical conditions, including heart disease and a weakened immune system, leading to more bouts of the flu and other viruses which will, in turn, mean you miss time at work, further adding to the stress. A poor work-life balance can also lead to other physical conditions: generally, it means that you won’t be exercising as much and your nutritional habits will probably suffer, both of which will have knock-on effects on your personal health.
- Personal Life Improvements
The more you are able to focus on your personal life, the better that life can become. Someone who has allowed work to encroach too much into their personal life will find it difficult to maintain relationships, not just in the time allowed to do so, but as mentioned above, the levels of stress that can be brought into someone’s personal world will inevitably have negative effects there. If this causes cracks in personal relationships, it can lead to even more stress which will be taken into the professional world too, and the vicious cycle continues.
- Improved Productivity
Combining reduced stress levels and a balanced personal life will inevitably lead to increased levels of happiness, more drive and focus, which have a good chance of leading to improved productivity at work. Just because someone is putting in 15-hour days at the office, this does not equate to better work, as outlined above. Create a healthy balance, and both the “work” and the “life” will improve.
- Remote Workers
The past year, with the Covid-19 outbreak meaning that there has been a huge uptick in the number of people working from home, work-life balance has become even more crucial. Remote workers already have a very blurred line between their professional and personal lives because their home has now become their office. Ensuring that there is some clear divide between the two, and companies should increase their efforts to make sure that their employees have the ability to create the correct balance. Remote working also brings with it the risk of personal life encroaching into the professional world. Employees must remain focused on their work despite the fact that there are many distractions tempting them from their personal life. Not getting this balance correct can lead to issues with productivity, and again, employers can help to ensure that this balance remains intact. For more information on ways to achieve this balance, see this post.
How to Help Improve Work-Life Balance
Both the employee and the employer should take steps to make sure the work-life balance remains in a place that is both good for the company, and for the employee’s personal life. One of the first things to realize is that different employees will have different problems. People from different generations will have varied life experiences when it comes to a work-life balance. There has been a greater emphasis on achieving this balance in recent years, so those coming from older generations, “baby boomers” and “generation x”, will have lived and worked through difficulties with the work-life balance, and achieving this balance will be different to “millennials” who have a unique experience with this balance and their solutions to overcoming it will be different. For an employer, understanding the needs of your employees is paramount, and understanding that what works for some employees won’t work for others.
Regular one-on-one communication between employer and employee is key to ensuring a healthy work-life balance. Whether the employee is feeling the stress of imbalance, or the employer is noticing an effect on their employee’s work product, keeping the communication door open is crucial to identifying problems, and working together to find a solution to establish a healthy balance. While a company/employer might be able to implement company-wide solutions to improve work-life balance, nothing replaces finding solutions on an individual basis.
Companies that promote and nurture good work-life balance will more likely have greater retention of employees, greater productivity, and a happier workplace environment. This type of environment will also attract a higher echelon of new employees, which again, in turn, will lead to a more productive environment.