The importance of work-life balance has become high on the agenda for the majority of working people. However, most don’t seem to be able to get the balance right for them.
According to a recent study by Investors in People, 22% said they are looking for a job with a better work-life balance. Furthermore, a whopping 77% said they felt stressed at work suggesting their work-life balance is out of sync.
I was recently speaking to someone to potentially join us here at ASC. They were working 12 hour days to get their work done. They felt pressured and stressed and thus this was having an effect on their home life. Although work-life balance is subjective to the individual, it’s crucial to get it right.
That’s why I’ve written this article, to give you an understanding of the importance of work-life balance on your career and personal life.
The level of prioritisation between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.
They also mention the reason why the importance of work-life balance has become more prominent in recent times is because of technology. If you think back to a time before the internet, smartphones and cloud-based tech, why would anyone have a need to bring their work home? Now people are given work mobiles, laptops and can remotely work from anywhere.
Whilst this can support flexible working arrangements, it can become a grey area. Technology shifts the boundaries of clear work time and personal time.
That is why it’s critical to get your work-life balance right for you.
Why is it important?
Work-life balance is important for many reasons including your health (physical and mental), your happiness, your relationships in and out of work and your ability to do the job well.
Although you may think it’s pretty obvious why it’s important, not everyone realises their balance is out of sync.
Some of us are workaholics. Just because you enjoy your job, it does not mean you should constantly be working. The key ingredient to work-life balance is the ability to relax, switch off from work and re-charge the batteries. There is more information on how to do this later on in the article. The next section focuses on the impact of a good vs poor work-life balance.
The impact of good vs poor work-life balance
A Poor Balance
Earlier, I referred to the person who was working 12 hour days, this is an example of poor work-life balance. So, what are the impacts of this?
Increased Tiredness: This could cause you to make mistakes. Thus, leading to questions about your ability to do the job and in extreme cases, loss of your job.
Increased Stress: Long hours impacts your mental and physical well-being. For example, it can cause a lower immune system which may result in more sick days. Not something your employer will be happy about.
Breakdown of relationships: Lack of work-life balance means you will see family and friends less. They may question this, leading to losing friends, breaking up with your partner or not seeing your children. Is this what you want?
Working Expectations: If you don’t have the balance right and always put in the hours, this then becomes the norm and your employer will expect it. You then fall into a trap of long hours with no or little downtime and ultimately burnout.
Risk of Health Issues in Later Life: According to Medical News Today, a poor work-life balance can increase your risk of stroke, heart disease, and anxiety/depression in later life. Is that how you envisaged retirement?
A good balance
On the contrary, getting work-life balance right has many added benefits. You see, a good work-life balance isn’t just about the division between work and personal time. It’s actually about a sense of fulfilment in the key areas of our life; work, family, friends, and self.
You need to ask yourself if you feel satisfied with all four of those areas. Balancing these means you feel you have achieved and are enjoying life. However, the balance can change from day to day or even year to year. Your balance when you are single will be different if you are married, hence advising it’s subjective to the individual.
Regardless of your situation, finding a good balance provides you with increased happiness, motivation, feeling of being valued, productivity and focus. These all lead to better health and wellbeing, reduced stress, better sleep, and personal and career development.
Tips to get your work-life balance right
As mentioned previously, getting the right work-life balance is about understanding your own needs. Below are some tips to support you with this:
Listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired and stressed, it’s time to take a break. Book a holiday or some time off.
Find something you enjoy for you. This could be as simple as reading a book or watching a movie. You may have a hobby such as riding your motorbike or the gym. Whatever it is, it should be about making time for yourself and no one else.
Be strict with yourself. Decide how many overtime hours you’ll do a day or a week and stick to it. Don’t say I’ll just stay for another hour at work, go home and make time for your friends and family. This also means not looking at your work emails on your mobile outside of these hours.
Find an employer who wants to support your work-life balance. Find a company that is right for your needs.
Prioritise the important stuff. This is at work and home and don’t let other things get in the way.
Understand when you are most proactive in the day. Use this to your advantage to get things done that need doing.
Be firm. Don’t be the person who says yes to every request, manage people’s expectations or you’ll be a walking doormat! That is in and outside of work.
Work-life balance benefits your employer too
Understanding if you’re achieving a good work-life balance allows you to see if you’re employer is supporting you. Work-life balance doesn’t just benefit you, it also helps your employer. If you’re happier, more motivated and focused, you’re going to be more productive, have improved performance and take less sick days. You are also likely to want to stay there which reduces the cost of finding a new hire.
So, there we have it, the importance of work-life balance. Hopefully, you now understand what it is, the benefits and tips on achieving it.
If you feel you’re not getting a good work-life balance and your employer is unwilling to support you, maybe it’s time to move jobs. Register with us and we’ll contact you to discuss what you are looking for. You can also search through all of our live jobs at any time.
If you think ASC could be a good place to work then please contact me, Marie Weston, to find out more.
Marie is the Internal Recruiter for ASC Connections. She finds talented individuals to join the ASC family. She really enjoys her role to help the business grow by bringing in talented people and supporting people prosper in their career.