In recent years, one of HR’s main roles has been to maintain the good work life balance employees. Many solutions have been put in place for this purpose. But the development of working from home, the use of new technologies like smartphones and tablets, and the evolution of our relationship to work have changed the boundary that once separated employees’ professional life from their private life. It is vital for the well-being of employees that a work-life balance is respected. A good work life balance will more likely lead to a positive employee experience.
How do you define work life balance?
Work life balance is a concept that involves effectively managing effectively the demands of your professional life and personal life. The goal of work-life balance is not equally distribute your time between your work and personal life, but to achieve harmony between the two. This harmony could look different for each individual.
Here are some key aspects to think about when defining work-life balance for yourself:
- Time Management: Allocating appropriate time for work tasks and personal activities, including family time, hobbies, and rest.
- Setting Boundaries: Establishing limits to prevent work from encroaching on personal time and vice versa. This includes knowing when to switch off work emails or calls during personal time.
- Prioritization: Understanding what is most important in both work and personal life and making decisions that reflect these priorities.
- Flexibility: Being able to adapt to changing circumstances in both work and personal life. This could involve flexible working hours or working from home arrangements.
- Physical and Mental Health: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, adequate rest, and managing stress effectively. This also involves seeking support when needed.
- Fulfillment: Achieving a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in both professional and personal endeavors.
- Support Systems: Having a network of support in both areas, such as understanding colleagues, a supportive employer, and a nurturing family environment.
Work life balance: a thin line
Little by little, private and professional life have become intertwined, and it is becoming common to no longer just work 5 days out of 7. This puts the work life balance out of kilter. A perfect example of employees not respecting a work life balance is that many so-called “connected” professionals check their e-mails after their work day has finished, during the weekend or while on vacation. These employees are also called “information professionals” and there were an estimated 860 million of them worldwide in 2016. They themselves recognize that they use their devices such as mobile telephones for both private and professional use. Their work life balance is practically non-existant since they spend much of their time on electronic devices for professional purposes.
This lack of work life balance has evolved with the introduction and surge of remote work, which increases the productivity and comfort of the employee but can also have negative effects, such as mixing the private and professional life. As a result, the work life balance goes down the tubes.
Measures to create a good work life balance
All the measures taken to improve the quality of life at work and the use of new communication tools encourage the employee to no longer keep their professional activities confined to working hours. In fact, according to a study conducted by IPSOS on a sample of 8,800 employees in 8 European countries: 67% admit to working outside office hours but 62% also admit to solving personal problems during these same hours. In this case, there is barely any work life balance.
On the one hand, there is the professional life that encroaches on private life and, on the other hand, private life that creeps into professional life, and this ultimately leads to a blend between the two. This trend has been named “blurring”, and can be defined as: “the gradual erasure of the boundaries between private and professional life” and the decrease in work life balance.
Opinions are divided on this new practice: the French and Germans find its influence negative while, conversely, the Chinese and Brazilians support it and think it is a good way to develop professionally. Americans, on the other hand, appreciate the comfort and feel that they are more productive, while the Australians and the English find this trend of mingling private and professional life negative.
Setting clear boundaries is crucial for maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Whether you have flexible work arrangements, like telecommuting or flexible schedules, or are dealing with long hours and high workloads, creating a clear separation between your work and personal life is essential. Prioritize tasks, use effective time management, and take advantage of flexible work hours when available to ensure your work doesn’t encroach on your personal time. Remember to unplug after work, use your paid time off, and embrace the idea of work-life integration to balance family commitments, reduce stress, and improve job satisfaction. It’s also essential for supervisors and HR departments to support employees in their efforts to find this balance, as it leads to happier and more engaged employees, reducing absenteeism and turnover in the workplace.
Self-Care and Well-Being
Prioritizing self-care and overall well-being is an integral component of maintaining a sustainable work-life balance. In the midst of hectic work schedules, heavy workloads, and the daily grind, it’s easy to overlook personal well-being. However, carving out time for self-care, such as practicing stress-reduction techniques, like mindfulness or meditation, can significantly reduce burnout. Dedicate moments for exercise, hobbies, and quality time for yourself and your family to recharge. Managing work-related stress through self-care empowers individuals to find a balance between work and personal life, reducing absenteeism and family conflict. Employers who encourage and facilitate self-care for their workforce not only enhance job satisfaction but also improve employee retention and overall workplace satisfaction, ultimately creating healthier and more engaged work environments.
Seek Support and Delegation
In the quest for a balanced work-life dynamic, seeking support and mastering the art of delegation is essential. It’s crucial to recognize that you don’t have to manage everything on your own. Reach out to colleagues, family, and friends for support, as they can help you balance work and personal life commitments. Effective delegation allows you to distribute tasks and responsibilities, reducing your workload and preventing burnout. When you prioritize self-care and well-being by seeking support, you not only maintain a better work-life balance but also cultivate a work environment that values employee satisfaction, leading to higher job satisfaction and engagement, reducing stress, and allowing you to enjoy quality personal time and hobbies.