As we previously discussed, work-life balance is becoming such a central aspect in the workplace that many employees are more concerned with it than with their salary. But despite the obvious and significant value some are putting on it, work-life balance is still a controversial subject. As we looked at in last week’s article on the subject, the definition of work-life balance is difficult to nail down which has led to a lot of confusion and push-back on the issue.
Some suggest too much value is being placed on work-life balance, while some even argue the whole concept is damaging to the professional world. However, while the level of importance might vary depending on the person, the fact is that finding that balance is very important and one that all employees and employers should consider going forward, for their own sake.
The importance of work-life balance for employees might seem very apparent, but many might not consider its necessity beyond the perceived ‘selfish’ reasons. When we speak of that balance, the assumption is that it means, stop spending so much time at work and focus more on the fun. Travel, go out, take more time off – this is where the negativity towards work comes from. Of course, that’s not the case. The balance that needs to be struck is not an equal measurement of time at work and time for fun, rather it’s finding a balance in which the work aspect and other aspects of your life can thrive together. Those aspects include health, family, and yes, fun. It doesn’t mean that four-day work weeks should be mandatory, but it means that if work is interfering with how the rest of your life operates, a balance must be struck.
Your mental health depends on the ability to escape work from time to time. Unwinding and putting your mind in another place is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Becoming consumed by work means you lose that release of removing yourself from work. This causes many people to burnout, leading to their work actually suffering from them spending too much time on it. It’s been said many times before that working excessive hours has the opposite effect than desired in terms of productivity. You are unable to ‘live in the moment’ and while that might sound like more of the selfish approach to work, it’s not. Living in the moment also means being able to devote your full attention and energy to the work at hand. Being overly focused on work robs you of that ability and the work suffers.
As you can start to see, the importance of a work-life balance goes beyond meeting the indulgent needs of employees and actually concerns a company’s day-to-day operations. Some employers are resistant to employees’ desire for this balance because they perceive it as allowing their workers to slack-off more, or in the case of older employees, it let’s them work with one foot already in retirement. However, employers need to stop considering what they will be losing to lazy employees and start thinking what they’ll be gaining from happy employees. Studies have shown that when workers have that healthy balance between work and other aspects of their life they are naturally more content at work. Fewer grievances arise from these employees. For businesses who promote such a balance, they are rewarded with longer terms of employment from workers and less turnover.
The importance of work-life balance should be evident to all involved. This is not the self-serving scheme some people seem to think it is and is not only meant to benefit the employees. If companies can take a smart and dedicated approach to providing this balance, they are able to set the appropriate terms and ensure the organization is working in a way that benefits all.