It’s 5pm and you want to go home. It has been a long day, you got to work at 8am, and there is a forty-five-minute commute ahead of you. You are ready for a quiet night in, and an early bedtime. You have to do it all again tomorrow. You like your job, but you have been feeling tired lately! And then it hits you. You are supposed to be going out this evening with some friends. Your heart sinks as you realise this means you won’t be getting that early night!
Sound familiar? I am sure most of us have been through that situation! If you have recently noticed that you have been feeling like this or have noticed your employees acting in this way, perhaps it is time to discuss that hot new topic, yes, the work-life balance! But what is a successful work-life balance? How can you make sure you have a proper work-life balance? And to you employers – how can you make sure that your business promotes a good work-life balance? This article will aim to answer those very questions!
What exactly is a work-life balance?
So, what exactly is a work-life balance? Well, firstly, it is pretty clear that in recent years this has been a “hot new topic”. It has been viewed as so important, in fact, that various mental health charities have promoted a better quality of work-life balance. However, with all good intentions, these articles are often very generalised. The first thing I want to remind you is that a good work-life balance MUST be individualised to you. The work-life balance of yourself and your colleague may look very different!
Work-life balance is essentially the recognition that one must work to survive (i.e., providing for yourself, any family you may have, and the ability to use earnt funds in whatever way you wish) whilst also acknowledging that you have other responsibilities aside from the workplace. A work-life balance allows you to complete all necessary tasks in your own personal life, enables you to enjoy your private life, and allows you to complete your tasks at work.
Good work-life balances are essential to an employee’s well-being and the reputation of an employer. The rest of this article will discuss what we have learnt about a good work-life balance and suggest a number of ways this may look for individual employees.
How can I, an employee, cultivate a good work-life balance?
Take a moment to think. Who are you? What activities make you, you? You should be able to pursue these activities, relationships, and friendships outside of your workplace. You should examine your working lifestyle, are you constantly in a working mindset? Do you have time to do things you want to do? Do you have problems sleeping because of work? Do you feel compelled to answer texts or emails outside of your working hours? If you do experience one or all of these things, maybe your work-life balance is out of sync.
The next section of this article will be short but informative. The following bullet points will provide some suggestions on what you can do to help yourself create a good work-life balance.
- Do not be embarrassed to say no! Many people feel that when an employer asks you to do something, you must do it. This is not always the case. If a certain job is too much for you, you should let your employer know. Likely, you will be able to reach an effective compromise or agreement.
- Take proper breaks during the day, make sure you know your rights as regards the amount of time you are entitled to take off during the day. Make sure you are well fed, watered and are in a comfortable environment.
- If you work from home in a hybrid setting, work-life balance may seem harder to define as your home becomes your workplace. This should not be the case. If it is, consider ways in which you can create an effective distinction between your work and home life. You can read more on this here.
- Make every second count with family, friends and yourself. relate.org.uk has an interesting article you can access here which discusses ways in which you can improve your mental health at work and maximising your outside-of-work potential.
If you are interested in learning more about your rights in the workplace, check our LeaveMonitor’s great selection of articles on proper workplace practices here! In addition, the UK Government’s website may prove to be valuable when discussing your workplace rights as well as the Citizen’s Advice website.
How can I, an employer, create a positive environment that encourages a good work-life balance?
As an employer, you have a number of things to worry about. Let’s be honest, your number one concern will likely be the creation of profit alongside building a collection of satisfied, returning clientele. That is, of course, fine – but a close second should be your employee wellbeing. You may have done a number of things to make your business a better environment to work in – whether this is the creation of employee benefits to give an incentive to work or even the odd duvet day to make sure your staff do not suffer burnout. These changes are to be praised; however the work-life balance does go a bit deeper than these things.
As an employer, you must recognise that your employees have lives outside your care. Talk to your employees, get to know who they are and what their lives are like. This is so important. We live in an age where being a “people person” is important. Although profit and satisfied customers are important, as an employer you also need to balance your employee presenteeism and employee turnover. Without encouraging a good work-life balance, you will be putting these things at risk and will be at risk of irreparably damaging your business – and even your employees. See this news article on just how serious a poor work-life balance can be.
As discussed, work-life balance will differ from individual to individual. This is why you need to know your staff well and personally.
It is also important to acknowledge that the workplace, for some, may actually be a place to de-stress and perform a level of escapism from real-life. For example, an employee who is struggling looking after a sick or aged relative may find themselves engrossed in their work to avoid thinking about other, personal situations. This can be good. However, it is also the responsibility of an employer to ensure their staff are not overworking or putting themselves at risk of burnout. Perhaps it is time to create or review your employee wellbeing program, something which could really help employees retain a good work-life balance.
Check out LeaveMonitor’s articles for employees and employers which focus on ways in which you can make your business more people friendly.
Hopefully, this article has shown how important a successful work-life balance is to a successful career. For both employee and employer, this work-life balance is essential. Employers, check on your staff. Make sure they are OK. It is in their best interests and, in fact, your best interests financially, in terms of efficiency, and retention of hard-working staff. Employers, check your rights. Talk to your employers, cultivate a culture of openness in your workplace. It is well worth it! Finally, there are a wealth of resources out there suggesting ways in which you, an individual, can create a tailor-made program to encourage a positive work-life balance.
LeaveMonitor offers a free trial of our excellent online leave management system here! This may also help you as an employer to ensure your employees are given proper leave and are able to request essential things such as compassionate leave. Take a look!