The ability to balance our professional and personal lives, otherwise known as work-life balance (WLB), has seen an increase in consideration over the past few years.
Recent data has shown that the importance of WLB to employees has increased significantly since the COVID pandemic, with 41% of employees now rating WLB as the major attraction to their role and salary coming in second at 36%. This is a reverse from similar research conducted in 2019, which showed that employees were attracted mainly to salary 41.02% over WLB 40.97%.
It is clear after the COVID pandemic that people now realise the importance of being able to balance their personal and professional lives. The new weight on the work from home culture has, for some, made it increasingly difficult to separate their work from home lives; perhaps because, for most, our homes have become our workplaces. It is now more likely for employees to check emails outside of normal working hours, maybe even take work calls during dinner or do additional work over the weekends.
Why is WLB so important?
By having a healthy WLB, we will benefit from a range of improvements:
Fewer health problems
Pressure to meet deadlines and constantly improve on results can lead to us becoming over-worked and stressed which, in turn, makes our health suffer. In some cases, this can be severe; one study of 10000 workers showed that those that did three or more hours overtime were 60% more likely to develop cardiovascular problems than their colleagues that didn’t work any additional hours.
Ill health often leads to workplace absence, meaning a greater strain is placed on others to meet demands which could create a vicious cycle; more pressure, more ill health, more absence, and so on.
- More engagement
When we have a better feeling of balance in our lives, we are more likely to be engaged with the work we are doing. This in turn, leads to us completing more meaningful work and create a better working culture.
Work-life balance allows us to develop a greater control over our ability to focus and concentrate, thereby facilitating more productive work time. This, in turn, can help to prevent the build-up of stress, as we are able to meet our work demands within the time frame we are allocated to do so.
- Less burnouts
Although stress is to a degree, unavoidable, workplace burnouts are avoidable.
Workplace burnout occurs when we feel overwhelmed with the amount of work we are being tasked with, and the negative effects can impact every aspect of our lives. Burnout is more likely to occur when our lives are un-balanced, and we do not have the escape form work that we need.
- Respect the boundaries of our working hours and environment
By not regularly working beyond our scheduled hours, we can naturally find balance which makes us more efficient and productive.
Similarly, by respecting the boundaries of our working environments, we will be able to flick a mental off-switch at the end of the day. If working from home, try to create a dedicated workspace. This will stop us working in areas we will later try to relax in, but also allow us to physically remove ourselves from work at the end of the day.
- Implement short breaks
The human body wasn’t designed to be sat a desk, staring at a bright screen for hours on end. Breaks are important for us to be able to have a physical and mental reset during the day. As little as 2 minutes every half hour, just enough to get a glass of water, is enough to get you up out of your seat, moving around a little and disengaging from the stresses of the workday.