For the majority of people, the whole life divides into two big parts. The first one includes duties and money earning for a decent living. It’s work. The second part is all except work: relax, friends, family, hobbies, sleep, and so on. Today, the issue of finding a balance between these two aspects of everyday life becomes more important than ever.
The NBER and many other research groups report that Americans tend to work longer nowadays. 50 hours per week, 65 hours per week, and even more – these numbers are familiar for the USA. In other regions, the situation is similar. Reports say that the Japanese spend more than 80 hours per week in offices. Sounds a bit dangerous, huh?
There are different reasons why workers shift towards work instead of regular life. Further, we study the very concept of the work-life balance, its importance, and its difficulties. The guide also provides valuable tips on finding an ideal harmony. Be aware that it isn’t simple – you should be persistent and understand what do you want exactly.
What Is the Work-Life Balance?
Well, the term work-life balance was introduced in the UK in the 1970s. It represents a healthy and stable distribution of an individual’s time between working hours and non-working activities. The concept is highly subjective, so we will also use the term “harmony” to show the inner satisfaction of each person. In a nutshell, it’s pretty simple to understand how balanced your life is. If you feel good both at work and at home, everything’s right.
However, is it possible to reach this harmony at all? Apart from short-term crises, workers tend to feel discontent with their working/non-working hours more often. Let’s find out why our balances disrupt.
Why Is It So Difficult to Balance?
The modern world is a highly competitive place. Moreover, modern people accept this situation and nurture their competitiveness. We dedicate more and more time to work to show that we’re good employees. The truth is that the lack of balance destroys us as professionals. Burnouts, insomnia, discontent, lack of energy, poor performance – these are the main consequences of the work-life imbalance.
To combat the issue, you should know its source. Here are the most common reasons:
- Constant sacrifices. A career requires sacrifices. But regular sacrifices may ruin it. A must-read by Atlantic suggests a “seasonal” approach – there are seasons when you should dedicate more time to work, and there are seasons for family or leisure.
- Higher competition. As we’ve mentioned, the world today features more competitive employees and businesses. People are afraid to lose their place, so they spend more time working, invest more resources in it, and forget about life itself.
- Longer working hours. This is the most obvious reason. Particularly, it reflects the growing competition between employees. Apart from it, there are other reasons why people work longer, from psychological issues to simple habits.
- No stimulus or results. Any work must be rewarded. And the salary often isn’t enough. It’s impossible to feel a true harmony if you achieve nothing as a professional and aren’t satisfied with what you do.
- Technology progress. Last but not least, innovations make our life more comfortable, but they also make us more vulnerable. Thanks to smartphones, laptops, and 5G, we can do work at any time and almost any place. This thing worsens the balance.
The list isn’t extensive because there are more personal forces that affect our lives. But these points are valid for almost all workers regardless of their age, region, and industry.
How to Maintain the Equilibrium?
If you don’t want to face negative consequences, it’s better to deal with the imbalance as early as possible. Of course, some insurance policies can help you to recover. Probably, we will even see insurance software development approaches with room for psychological help. But it’s always better to prevent than to cure.
The next two points include helpful suggestions for workers and their bosses. We strongly believe that it’s possible to maintain balance when both parties wish so. Employers who understand their subordinates can reach better engagement. As well, employees who know themselves can move to harmony quicker.
Tips for Employers
It shouldn’t be a surprise for a seasoned boss of any company, but balanced employees are more motivated and productive, feel less stress, and leave non-working issues outside of the office. Satisfied employees are more valuable for businesses. Moreover, they can promote workspaces by attracting more customers and/or professionals.
There are a few benefits we consider the most appropriate for nurturing the best work-life balance. Employers can offer them to workers easily:
- Access to exercises. Physical activity is a must-have for all office workers. By providing access to such a feature, you give employers freedom of choice. They can decide how to spend breaks to recover from monotonous work.
- Childcare services. One of the most critical aspects of the work-life balance is a family. It’s much more challenging to maintain balance when you have kids. For families with double-earners or alone parents, companies should have childcare offers.
- Education and development. Remember, we talked about the stimulus? Personal and professional development are among them. By providing relevant courses, bosses can increase the employees’ productivity and help them to grow.
- Flexible schedules. It’s pretty essential for a lot of workers, especially younger ones. People appreciate freedom not only in work tasks but in the organization. A professional manager knows his/her subordinates and plans schedules appropriately.
- Quiet spaces in offices. People are different. Many of them require some safe areas where they can sit back and relax for a few minutes. Such corners are vital for introverts in open spaces where all work together.
- Teambuilding events. Simultaneously, team activities are vital too. They help people to know each other, set relationships and maintain them later. Explore various small and big events like happy hours, meetings, parties, etc.
Tips for Employees
In the case of your own harmony, things are even evident. This feeling of discontent harms your performance, damages both work and life, disrupts healthy relationships with colleagues and close ones. The list below comes with suggestions that work for employees around the globe. Give them a try even if you feel skeptical:
- Be flexible. Similarly to bosses who allow flexible schedules, you also should be ready to change daily plans. There aren’t perfect balance schemes. On Monday, you may spend one more hour at work, but on Tuesday, you can go home earlier if needed.
- Forget about perfectionism. This quality can be helpful sometimes, but only when you control it. Otherwise, it leads to burnouts, exhaust, and mental/physical problems. It’s just impossible to achieve everything, so know your goals.
- Remember about health. Overall, it’s the most valuable asset you have. Don’t let work or other activities ruin your physical and mental health. Overworking may be useful in the short run, but you will have to take more sick leaves eventually.
- Set achievable goals. When you’re working, it’s essential to remain productive. Know your goals, know your schedules, and plan time efficiently. It’s important not to overestimate your powers.
- Take vacations. You don’t have to travel around the world or swim with sharks. Vacation is a time when you don’t think about work. At all. Stop using working phones, delete messengers, and dedicate your time to other things.
- Unplug regularly. This is the weapon against the mentioned progress rates. We’re accustomed to online lives. But it’s important to separate work and life. If you know that your smartphone is a working tool, forget about it sometimes.
At the end of the day, the pursuit of the ideal work-life balance can damage not less than the imbalance itself. Brigid Schulte from New America said Atlantic says that it may be a viable way just to embrace your issues. Accept them, permit yourself not to be perfect. Stop thinking that you must clean the house after a busy workday or post vacation stories on Instagram. Just try to enjoy. Order a pizza, get a drink, and think where is your own harmony.
This content is sponsored by Yevhenii Ostroverkh.