What does work-life balance mean to you?
The famous WORK-LIFE BALANCE, is a familiar term with the working class. Organisations and companies have it as part of their mission and values system but, matters of its practical implementation is a question for another day. Employees on the other hand close early with the excuse of maintaining a good work life balance. #worklifebalance in my opinion tends to be an overused term without consideration to the rights and responsibilities associated with it. It has become a sweet excuse for employees who can’t wait to close from work. It is quite an interesting topic which is very dear to my heart.
What is work life balance?
“Work-life balance refers to the level of prioritisation between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.“
The interesting point of highlight from the above definition is the key word, prioritisation! If it’s not part of your priorities then don’t expect the employer to pave the way for you to make it their priority.
“A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle. Most psychologists would agree that the demands of an employee’s career should not overwhelm the individual’s ability to enjoy a satisfying personal life outside of the business environment.“
With the above definition, I would say there is no fixed state of equilibrium. It’s not like the state of equilibrium in Economics where supply meets demand, its more complicated than that. It’s not about the ratio of work hours versus personal hours, in my opinion it’s about the quality of usage of the limited time available and how effectively its utilised to achieve maximum returns from these two competing factors.
Work-life balance is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Work-life balance is a daily effort to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, and other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the workplace.Work-life balance is assisted by employers who institute policies, procedures, actions, and expectations that enable employees to easily pursue more balanced lives.
About work-life balance
It is currently difficult drawing a line between the ideal ratio of work-life balance due to the emergence of technology and growing trends. Like myself, I have an office phone with work mail set up on it limiting the extent to which work hours can be “cut-off” unlike the days of the desktop where it was so easy to do so. Desktop shutdown meant end of work for the day from a physical and mental perspective.
What do we see now? Companies now make phones available to staff which potentially clears the line between work and personal time.
Would you be daring enough to leave your office phone locked in your desk at the risk of angering your boss or missing out on work with urgent timelines all in the name of work-life balance? How do working parents cope, especially mothers? Whose responsibility is it to ensure the achievement of work-life balance in any company? Do you have a right to determine your working hours? Is work-life balance only a topic of priority for working parents? So many questions to be asked.
Whats others think..
I posted this on LinkedIn recently soliciting for views
“Let’s get talking……How do you make work-life balance achievable? Is it the employer or employees duty? Share your thoughts.. This would be the topic of the next blog post. Thanks in advance !”
Thanks to those who made time to express their opinion and also agreed for me to include their details in this post.
Both employer and employee have a role to play. The employer for instance should not demand that staff come to work on holidays to complete an assignment. Staff should not also take assignments home to complete it. All assignment needs to be complete at the work place. My thoughts though.
It’s a shared responsibility between both players. The employee must be diligent about his or her work and optimize official working hours well to clear scheduled backlog of assignments so as to achieve maximum corporate productivity rather than to the detriment of family and social endeavors. On the part of the employer, he or she should respect the rights of employees and acknowledge the fact that the latter is a social and psychological being hence the need not to infringe on those rights. That notwithstanding, the employer should not entertain mediocrity and incompetence from the employee and create an enabling corporate environment that would mutually benefit both parties.
Like Solomon and James, I also believe it is a shared responsibility. But more importantly, the employee plays a vital role. If the employer is not creating the environment for a good work life balance, how the employee communicates this to the employer can do the trick or worsen issues. Even if there is already a conducive environment, how the employee takes advantage of it would be paramount.
The key theme running through is that the success of work-life balance in any workplace is dependent on both parties . Employers have to be considerate and at the same time employees have to attend to duties with high levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Are there avenues externally to help address this in addition to the functions of HR/HC departments? Is it an employee’s forced choice due to fear of job loss to ignore the absence of work-life balance in their lives?
What I think
I believe work life is achievable and these are my views.
1. Find an employer or company that meets your work life goals
Yes, you should have goals and you have the right to do so. You deserve it. If having personal time is important to you then start interviewing employers who meet your specifications. Yeah right! When there are loads of unemployed people competing for the same job who wouldn’t mind spending 24/7 hours at work. I will say don’t give up, you can settle temporarily for an employer whilst still searching for your ideal work environment.
How else would you be able to assess if the company you are applying for can help you in that regard? I raised this at one of my interviews and am sure the interviewer would be thinking of how unserious i am as a job seeker if indeed i needed or should I say wanted that job. In my opinion be frank with your terms and expectations, don’t lie to get in there and start regretting. Being truthful means from the start your employer is already aware of your stance in life. No further convincing is needed.
2. Maximise work hours
Save the long pleasantries for after work or before start of work. You want more time for your self right? Work towards getting a lot done during working hours. Planning is therefore a key component, that’s why i love my handwritten to do lists. Will discuss the benefits in a separate post. If you are a social media fan like myself, advice is to switch off your data and catch up during lunch hours. After-all “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy”.
3. Don’t overwork yourself
It’s important to realise that you are human and you can do as much as you can. There is a limit to everyone. You can’t always stretch yourself to get work done because you are certain to break down sooner or later. Accept it that there are good days and bad days and you cannot always be perfect but this shouldn’t be an excuse for mediocrity at work.
Work-life balance is achievable and its all dependent on the employee. As the saying goes, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” Employees are therefore not expected to abuse employer privileges. Employers on the other hand can consider instituting flexible working hours policy among other things such as staff hangouts with no discussion of work related topics. Check out 5 Secrets To Achieving Work-Life Balance and 8 Ways To Achieve Better Work-Life Balance for more tips.
The concept of having a good work-life balance is to have some “me” time whether for family reasons, attend to your spiritual needs, give you time to refresh your mind even it means doing nothing etc tends to minimise your stress levels and also help you perform effectively at work.
There is never a dull moment if you love what you do. Some lucky ones have the opportunity of finding themselves in careers which are actually their hobbies so with these group of people they less than often do not need to draw a line between work and personal time. They might be one and the same for them. For those who tend to find themselves saddled with a career that they never look forward to every morning, getting that personal time is very essential to prevent stress from piling and eventually impacting negatively on their output.
In my opinion instead of work-life balance the new term should be “career-personal life balance” or “work v personal life balance“. I say so because life is our existence and we have chosen to split it between work and personal time, so work-life in my opinion seems to emphasise and sway too much towards work than personal life.
That’s my thought. What do you think? What are your views on work-life balance? Do you have any personal experiences you would like to share? Do you know any companies you like to applaud for treading the course of work-life balance?
Let’s hear from you.