Work-Life Balance – Is it Affecting You?

English: An artist's depiction of the rat race...

English: An artist’s depiction of the rat race in reference to the work and life balance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Work-life balance has become a subject of concern for business leaders, human resource managers, healthcare professionals as well as employees in global organisations today. With rising inflation, there is pressure to recover cost of education along with the ambition to be “successful”. The increasingly competent young workforce now faces an ever growing challenge of separating career ambitions and other aspects of life. Steven L. Sauter, chief of the Applied Psychology and Ergonomics Branch of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, Ohio, says, “the workplace has become the single greatest source of stress.”

Work–life balance is defined as proper prioritizing and balance between work career, achievement and ambition, lifestyle, health, pleasure, leisure, family and enjoyment. Due to enhanced competition, hard work and striving to be the best has become a perceived necessity for ‘success’. This has reduced the number of tasks and activities people engage in just for enjoyment or fun. There is an enormous pressure to excel at everything and to continuously think in terms of achievement.

According to Ma Foi Randstad Workmonitor Survey 2012 Wave 1, there is a definite challenge for employees in India in handling work-life balance. . “Technology has increased work efficiency to a large extent, but the downside is that it has also simultaneously created a 24/7 intrusion in the private lives of employees,” Ma Foi Randstad MD and CEO E Balaji said. Moreover, 79 per cent of employees said that they receive work-related phone calls/e-mail while on holiday and similar proportion (80 per cent) said they receive work-related phone calls/e-mails after office hours.

Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor’s career and workplace expert who ran global HR departments at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo before co-authoring Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business says “Companies that make sincere efforts to recognize employees’ lives outside of the office will often see the pay off when it comes to recruiting and retaining top talent.”  Gassdoor.com, a social jobs and careers community, just released its second-annual list of the Top 25 Companies for Work-Life Balance. The report is based entirely on feedback shared by employees within the past year. Companies with high Work Life Balance offer a range of perks: flexible hours, telecommuting options, compressed work weeks and family friendly work environments. “In addition, we see many of the companies offering ease of access to food and fitness amenities,” says Samantha Zupan, a Glassdoor spokesperson. “What also stood out about several companies on the list was senior leadership’s support of work-life balance.”

The significance and implications of such HR interventions are many. Research findings suggest that Work Life Balance Programs (WLBPs) not only help employees better manage their work and family roles (Thomas & Ganster, 1995), but also affect employee attitude and behaviors such as organisational commitment (Grover & Crooker, 1995), job satisfaction (Kossek & Ozeki, 1998) and intention to quit (Lobel & Kossek, 1996).

It is however very important to establish that maintaining healthy work and personal life balance is not only the responsibility of employers and HR staff. Employees themselves have a major role in the work culture and stress patterns they establish for themselves in the lives. As Bowswell and Olson-Buchanan stated, “increasingly sophisticated and affordable technologies have made it more feasible for employees to keep contact with work.” Researchers have found that employees who consider their work roles to be an important component of their identities will be more likely to apply these communication technologies to work while in their non-work domain. Also proper time management, prioritising and assertiveness are skills that go a long way in ensuring higher probability of work life balance.

Here are a few steps that employees can consider to enhance work life Balance:

  • Consider all the things that compete for your time, and prioritise.
  • Learn how to say no. Assertiveness plays a major role in helping establish health working patterns with seniors and colleagues. Prioritise the importance of a task. It is important to consider the time you have in hand while making delivery commitments. You also can consider saying no when certain requests or orders are beyond work hours or capacity.
  • If your firm allows staffers to telecommute, consider working from home a few days a week. When discussing this option with your boss, approach it from a position of strength. Describe how the flexibility could ultimately help your company.
  • Technology is a good servant, but a bad master. Remember that BlackBerrys, iPhones and other devices exist to make your life easier, not to rule it.
  • Remember not all activities have to be about achievement and excelling. While out of work trying doing activities like exercise reading yoga etc. that don’t have relations with work performance.
  • Make sure to understand the importance of rest and play in enhanced performance.

 

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