The Work-Life Balance isn’t just an appealing concept dreamed up by marketeers to promote health and well being products. An increasing number of UK Companies are relying on their employees to lead a more balanced lifestyle, as balanced, happy employees are more productive and motivated.
According to a study conducted by Totally Money, the United Kingdom ranks 13th out of 24 European countries with the best work-life balance. So, we are not the worst, but Companies in Britain have a long way to go to match Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands who spend, on average 8.5 hours a day devoted to leisure-time.
DEFINITION: WORK-LIFE BALANCE
We are defined by our idealism to achieve a balance between our working life and private life. It is a concept in which we measure:
- Personal Success through our family and partnerships, friendships, hobbies, quality of sleep and self-reflection.
- Working Life considering appreciation, productive work patterns, flexibility, social environment, company benefits and core promotional successes.
We are halfway through 2019 and those New Year resolutions probably feel like a lifetime away. If your promise was to find a happier, more balanced life, maybe introducing a new hobby or two then we hope you are seeing some benefits! If not, then it is likely that peer pressure at work, and lifestyle choices at home are causing some friction.
Knowing how to make work-life balance work, can be the difference between having happiness and always chasing happiness. After all, happiness is what you’re after!
A healthy work-life balance involves several independent factors. Understanding how these factors are connected throughout your life, and how to implement them both at work and at home without causing damage to either is key to your success!
Let’s look at these independent factors and define where they belong in your healthy working life and healthy private life, and how each factor is connected:
YOUR WORKING LIFE CYCLE
Whether you are based in an office a factory or on the shop floor, a satisfying professional life is all about making sure your work brings visible and valuable results. You need to ensure you turn up everyday with a ‘can do’ attitude. If you don’t, it will have a negative impact on your private life as you take your dissatisfaction home. Productive work consists of the right amount of both satisfying and fulfilling work, so it is important that you work with your employer to ensure you have the right conditions for productive work.
It is important that you feel valued. An employer needs to look at both intangible (praise) and tangible (promotion opportunities, training, fair pay, bonus etc) to define an employee’s sense of appreciation both for themselves and their work in order to positively identify within the workplace and avoid a downward spiral of stress, frustration and worry that will shake your work-life balance entirely.
You spend such a long time at work that it is important the social structure of the environment is clearly defined. House rules are as important at work as they are at home. Clear hierarchies; social freedoms; definition on anti-social behaviour; team building and general guidance on how to conduct yourself as an employee are crucial. The right corporate structure and a positive, happy team can create an environment where colleagues build strong relationships that can only benefit both their working and home life.
We all need a little bit of flexibility in our working life and it is important that our employer understands other factors within an employee’s private or family life to be an empathetic employer. Finding a balance between the employee who is constantly off sick, to the employee who occasionally needs to make up his or her hours to attend outside commitments like school assemblies or a doctors’ appointment is crucial to creating a positive team working environment. If you take advantage of the flexibility your employer offers your working life, then it is likely you will add stress and worry to your home life.
Health & Well-Being
Many activities have a negative impact on the health and well-being of employees. For desk jobs, an employer can combat this by providing a healthy diet, good chairs and adjustable desks are a must! A bowl of free fruit and fresh drinking water (not tap) is a good start for all Companies whether staff are in the office or on the shop floor! For industrial or construction environments, providing the right tools and training to carry out the role plus, safety clothing and PPE can only positively encourage a healthy and safe workforce. If you are in and industrial environment and feel you are not safe, it is important to report this to your employer immediately.
If you have found an employer who provides a good Company Pension Scheme, then you are on to a winner. It is even better if you have found a Company that respects your time off! Offering more than the average of 25 days holiday a year is probably the most rewarding if you are looking to improve your work-life balance. Who doesn’t want more free time?
YOUR HOME-LIFE CYCLE
Family & Partnerships
For many, family is an essential part of leading a happy life. For most professionals, the end of a working day consists of spending time with loved ones. If you are stuck in a vicious circle of working long hours to support your family financially then you are endangering your home-life cycle. The exact elements of a good family life and a good partnership are hard to define – nonetheless if you are unhappy in either, you cannot avoid polluting both environments.
As we get older, it becomes harder to cultivate friendships outside of our professional lives which can lead to loneliness even if we are happily married with a family of our own. Many professionals are too exhausted after a busy day to try new social activities or spend all their life outside of work juggling their children and family commitments. Colleagues can provide new social anchor points that may previously of been filled by external friends so it is important to be happy in your working environment to forge positive relationships.
A healthy sleep-cycle is crucial to your overall well-being. Sleep deprivation can result in poor performance, mood swings, increased physical susceptibility and sometimes can even be linked to depression. Many psychologists and doctors consider healthy sleep to be a key factor of a happy life. If you are stressed out at work, it is likely that your sleep will suffer which creates a vicious circle of unhappiness.
How you perceive relaxation is important. For example, some people define their relaxation time as exercise, and some think they need to be painting or reading to convince themselves they are relaxing. If you feel you are stuck in Groundhog Day and are never able to find time for yourself even though your life has the same flow everyday then it is likely that your routine needs an overhaul. You need to be able to define yourself and what relaxation means to you before you embark on introducing a range of new hobbies and activities.
The work-life balance does not simply mean striking a balance between professional and personal life, but also regularly reflecting on it and questioning it. It also depends on the right measure: anyone seeking to achieve a good work-life balance more than to live, is missing the entire work-life balance definition.