Technology has evolved by leaps and bounds. People are able to stay connected at all times. It has transformed the way people work, access information and communicate. One can access emails, texts, fax almost instantaneously. Everything is available at one’s fingertips. While it does help everyone stay “connected”, it also prevents them from “disconnecting”. Although very few people realise it, it is really hard to maintain the perfect work life balance.
According to a recent HBR article, different things are important to individuals at different stages in their career. Between 25-34, people seek better jobs, positive work relationships and external work conditions. From 35-44, they want to be more financially secure and be prepared for retirement. As they age, needs may change but they are always willing to compromise on their work life balance to satisfy these needs.
While it may not be obvious in the earlier stages, eventually the stress does get to individuals. Many experience severe burnouts, increase in frustration levels and drop in productivity. The thin line between work-life balance has already diminished by then.
This is a common problem across large corporates as well as upcoming startups. Employers, at times, forget that it is in their best interest to have employees with a healthy work-life balance. Because they can be engaged in their work, only when they have a life outside it.
As these individuals are lost in their quest to succeed, they fail to take the right steps. Here, the management should encourage such employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. After all, if the employees are not productive, it harms the company profitability as well. Though work-life balance cannot be tailor made for everyone, there is no universal mantra as well. One of the challenges in making workplaces more work-life balance friendly, is lack of awareness as to what actually leads to that state of mind.
A Gallup study on work life balance reveals few common elements of well-being that transcend countries & cultures. These elements are essential for employees as well as employers, since they finally help boost the bottom line. The management can create an environment that supports a mix of all these elements:
People want to excel in their job. In today’s competitive environment, some feel that the 40 hour week is not enough. These employees tend to extend the hours to gain a competitive edge over others. But by replacing personal time for professional commitments, they tend to stretch themselves.
Managers should take the efforts to understand what employees want. They can also help employees manage their time better so they don’t spend extra hours.
Man is a social animal. Everyone needs to recharge and replenish their batteries on a regular basis. Having a strong and functional relationship outside work helps individuals relax. It distracts them from their work and reduces the stress associated with it. Spending quality time with loved ones is one of the best therapeutic measures to reduce stress.
Some companies make it mandatory to completely disconnect while on a vacation. Others arrange events, trips or parties where everyone can let their hair down and enjoy.
One of the key ingredients that an employee seeks from a job. If the pay is not good, employees will search for better options. Today millennials form a large portion of the work environment. They are also taking up managerial positions in greater numbers and thus have many responsibilities.
However, this is also the age where they are getting married and/or becoming parents to newly borns. They seek financial security to comfortably manage both professional and personal responsibilities.
Physical fitness is the key to maintain logical thinking and mental clarity. It is common knowledge that everyone needs should spend some time for exercise.
Companies like Google have on-campus state of the art gyms for their employees. Others reimburse their employees’ gym memberships or any class that requires physical exertion.
It is the sense of belonging you have with the people around you, in office or out of it. People need to be part of communities that share similar interests.
It could be a volunteering organisation or soup kitchen. Basically it breaks the monotony of the office and helps to focus on activities out of which they derive satisfaction.
The absence or lack of even one element can disrupt an individual’s work life balance. An ideal job is where he or she gets to enjoy the work as well as give appropriate time to other responsibilities.