Work-life balance – Everything you need to know.

In today’s busy world, one can easily get lost in their work. Balancing personal and professional life can be difficult, since they are both important and major parts of your life. We do not want those two parts to be in conflict, but to coexist and contribute to a happier and fuller life in general.

In this article we aim to show you why work-life balance is an essential for both personal life of our employees and our business. How can putting an emphasis on work-life balance in our company contribute to a more successful business?

Since this is a hot topic these days, there are many articles and research papers addressing this issue, so we’ll also quickly go over some of them.

Poor work-life balance

To better understand the topic, let’s first start with addressing what work-life balance isn’t. The balance between one’s personal and professional life can be disrupted when the demands of the job are too overwhelming for the person. For example, heavy workload, long working hours, a busy schedule and stressful work environment can contribute to a person feeling overly invested in their job, leaving them with less or no time and energy to invest in their personal life. These kinds of situations are sometimes normal if the workload gets more crowded in some parts of the month/year, maybe we have a deadline to catch and end up working longer for a few days before. However, this should never last for longer than a few days as it can lead to the employee feeling exhausted, stressed and even cause the burnout syndrome.

The benefits of work-life balance

We can clearly see wow this could affect the employee, but what about the employer? Many articles have stated that poor work-life balance is linked to lower job satisfaction and employee engagement. Hence the employers have begun to understand the importance of maintaining a good work-life balance and the role it plays in maintaining high engagement of employees and reducing employee fluctuation rates. Moreover, having a good work-life balance can increase employee productivity rates and overall performance. We do not just want an employee who is more present, but also an employee who is more invested, more productive and more successful in their job.

I know, all of this still sounds pretty abstract. So let’s look at it through a financial perspective and the effect it has on overall financial performance. Several studies have found that companies identified as more employer friendly or family friendly have had better financial performance, lower risk rates and were performing more successfully. I will put all the sources down below at the end of the article, for you to be able to read about this topic in more detail, if you are interested.

Good work-life balance

Now, what does it mean to have a good work-life balance?

Basically, it means that your job leaves you with enough space to pursue your other interests and relationships. Ultimate balance would be establishing a stable and sustainable way to work while maintaining one’s health and general well-being. Also vice versa, you should be able to organize your personal life in such a way it allows you to fulfill all your work responsibilities.

Starting from your job, a balance can be achieved by doing the work you actually enjoy and see a purpose in. You should feel an optimal amount of challenge while working, to feel motivated and excited about your job, but not feel like the tasks are overly demanding and time consuming. Also, most of the time you should be able to do all your work in the timespan of your working hours and not bring any remaining work home. It’s better to keep strong boundaries between work and the rest of your life.

When it comes to the role of your personal life in achieving work-life balance, it also matters how you spend your free time. Taking some time for yourself, getting enough sleep and picking up a hobby you enjoy can really help dissociate yourself from your work and leave your troubles behind. Also, I can’t ever stress how important your social relationships are for your well being so make sure to always take some time to spend with your friends and family.

Maintaining a good work-life balance is associated with better overall health, happiness and subjective well being.

Improving work-life balance for your employees

Finally, how can we, as employers, help our employees achieve a better balance of their personal and professional life? I will just quickly lay out a few tips and give some examples of what we do in our company, but I will also direct you to some articles which have great suggestions and go more in detail about this issue. 

First of all, I would suggest having a realistic workload and making sure your employees can finish all of their tasks during their working hours. If that is not possible, make sure to keep good track of their overtime hours and give them appropriate compensation for their effort. It would be great if employees could choose whether or not they want to work overtime, as younger employees tend to want to work more and perhaps employees who have children would rather spend some time with them. It is important to communicate with your employees and ask them how they feel about this, even if you do not have the power to change it at the moment, they are sometimes happy just because someone listened to them. I try to have regular one-on-one conversations with our employees (every 2 months or when needed) so they would get a chance to talk to someone. Furthermore, if your employee has to work overtime on some days, think about the possibility of him/her working less hours some other day, to have more time to rest. 

Secondly, a good way to encourage employees to focus on their work-time balance is including some benefits that allow them to. For example, think about giving your employees a day off if they have some important event in their personal life such as their birthday or their daughter’s graduation. Make sure that they have enough vacation days to rest and that vacation days are increased if they have children. Pay closer attention to their needs and adjust your benefits system accordingly. In our company we offer Multisport cards to encourage our employees to do more sports. We also give them the opportunity to organize their own work schedule through flexible working hours and possible remote work. Basically, they can choose where and when to work, as long as they attend all the meetings and perform all their tasks well. This also gives them more autonomy and our experience with this system has been very positive so far.

Final words

At the very end of this article, if you are an employee looking to improve your own work-life balance, I wish to offer you some more articles and useful links.

These articles, along with many others, provide tips on how to help yourself if you feel like you may be out of balance.

Blazovich, J. L., Smith, K. T., & Smith, M. (2013). Employee-friendly companies and work-life balance: Is there an impact on financial performance and risk level?. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, Forthcoming.

Gröpel, P., & Kuhl, J. (2009). Work–life balance and subjective well‐being: The mediating role of need fulfilment. British Journal of Psychology, 100(2), 365-375.

Kasbuntoro, D. I., Maemunah, S., Mahfud, I., Fahlevi, M., & Parashakti, R. D. (2020). Work-life balance and job satisfaction: A case study of employees on banking companies in Jakarta. International Journal of Control and Automation, 13(4), 439-451.

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