Whatever industry you are in, the work-life balance is important to achieve. Broadly, work-life balance can be defined as a healthy blend of professional as well as personal practices so as to create a subtle balance between the two.
The advancements in the field of technology have made our lives simpler by making communication seamless. We have mobile phones, laptop, internet, fax, texting and what not to keep everyone stay connected all the time. The gadgets have shifted the employees’ availability beyond the 8-hour schedule. So, the employees never technically leave their offices. Many of us still work from their homes taking a serious toll on our personal lives knowingly or unknowingly.
This has led to us thinking – Is work-life balance a myth or a reality?
We all could use some great words by great entrepreneurs as reminders to create a work-life balance indeed. Steve Blank said it rightly, “When you’re gone would you rather have your gravestone say, ‘He never missed a meeting.’ Or one that said, ‘He was a great father.’”
Also, David Cummings (co-founder, Pardot) has presented an amazing insight to create the indispensable work-life balance and to nail it like a pro. According to him, “Imagine working 20% smarter instead of 20% longer. Work-life balance and startup success at any stage aren’t mutually exclusive. There are enough hours in the day to be effective and present.”
So you get the view right. As every entrepreneur or a manager knows that to establish a business involves- sleepless night, odd working hours, the inevitable stress and exceptionally less time to your personal ventures. But they also know that if they keep on doing this every waking hour, this strategy is doomed to fail and might have repercussions in the longer run.
Why should work-life balance matter? – The Stats
A positive work-life balance is the sum total of greater flexibility with work schedules and greater control of the life. For an employee, work-life balance makes up for the most important factor of consideration in evaluating overall satisfaction in the job.
The stats also tell the same thing. The OECD better life index has carried out surveys on employees across different age groups, tenures etc. asking for the most important factor for overall professional satisfaction. The results show ‘work-life’ balance as the most prominent factor in defining their overall satisfaction from work and productivity. An important aspect of work-life balance being the number of hours a person spends at work. The results from 20 OECD countries show that long working hours jeopardize their health and affect their productivity. Turkey has the highest proportion of people with long working hours while Netherlands come with the lowest working hours. Also, time devoted to leisure and personal care is the lowest in Turkey creating an imbalance between work and life.
The cumulative stats around the globe indicate that more than 50% employees report of leaving jobs owing to poor work-life balance. Also, it remains the number one reason for leaving the company surpassing compensation and job security.
In a simpler word, poor work-life balance leads to higher attrition rate.
In the US alone, the average job tenure is 4.6 years while this in the case of Millennials is now 2.3 years. Over 73% of the workforce under the age of 35 has spent less than three years in an organization, this stat getting decreased every year.
Role of management in promoting it
The Human Resource management at any company plays a distinct role in maintaining all the healthy practices and ensuring the responsibilities are being divided properly. The HR department makes sure that employee contracts and regulatory policies are within the HR framework and employees should be well aware of that.
There are many ways HR can ensure that the employees are satisfied with work and enjoying sound health as well.
- The HR can ensure that the employees are treated properly and the managerial expectations from them are within the place and limit.
- The HR management can encourage the culture of inculcating in employees the habit of taking time for themselves.
- There must be clear limit to work communication on the weekends. There should be no communication in the night time unless it is for highly sensitive/critical situations.
- The suggestions that are in favor of employees can be welcoming and make way to change the typical work culture in any company. For instance, HR can suggest employees to leave their work laptops in office unless necessary.
- The idea of ‘flexitime’ can be really useful in ensuring the right number of working hours. For instance, employees dealing with clients over the phone for a long time and at odd hours should be flexible to choose their work timings. If they work for 10-12 hours a day, they can be given an option to work for only four days in that week.
- Businesses that work on the quarterly basis can offer incentives in the form of the long weekend for their employees. Especially at the start of a quarter is the best time as the workload is less.
- HR management should hold interactive sessions with the employees and should be observant. They must be able to identify if the employee is pushing too hard on himself for work and offer interactive solutions for that.
- HR should increase interaction with fun games and arrange dedicated health sessions for the employees. For example, Zumba sessions have proven beneficial for employees relieving them of work stress and motivate them. The female employees especially find it hard to strike a work-life balance; yoga or zumba sessions can be really beneficial for them.
Work-life balance does not necessarily mean dividing the same number of hours to the work as well as to your personal life. It should be more fluidic than this, as right balance for you changes with everyday’s challenges and situations. It also changes with your personal life and priorities. So ideally, there is no work-life balance mantra to fit all. Every person has a different life and a different set of priorities so the work-life balance will be different for everyone.
But at the core of it, two key concepts that matter are – Achievement (at the workplace) and Recreation (at the personal level). If you abide by these, work-life balance will sure be a reality.