The Importance of Work-life Balance

Posted on October 25, 2017

Work-life balance is a term most people are familiar with – particularly if they have a job that makes significant demands on their time. But could you pin down what it actually is? And how would you know if you’ve achieved it? If you’re not sure, you’re not alone! Experts across a range of social sciences have looked into aspects of work-life balance, but there’s no agreed definition of the concept as a whole. Initially the idea was focused on women in the workplace, and the balance between their job and family responsibilities. The discussion has widened since then, and the concept of work-life balance continues to evolve over time, as social and technological factors around employment change.

Work-life balance has many different facets, depending on for example the country you are looking at, and has also changed a lot over the past years: For example, in Turkey the average person works 20 hours more per week than the average person in the Netherlands – that’s 4 hours per working day! Therefore, people’s concept of work-life balance will differ depending on their nationality. Technology has been a great driver of efficiency in modern work. But it also enables an ‘always on’ work culture, where many employees can be productive outside the work environment. They can also make contact (and be contacted!) anywhere and everywhere. This disrupts the boundary between work life and non-work life, which can make achieving work-life balance more of a challenge.

While there might not be universal definition of work-life balance, researchers do know the benefits of getting it right. If you look after yourself well and achieve a good balance, you’ll be a more productive worker and less likely to experience burnout. It will also improve things outside of work, like relationships. It has also been found that an imbalance between work and life at home will negatively impact your physical and mental health through higher blood pressure, heart rate and levels of cortisol (which are results of increased feelings of stress), as well as an increased risk of depression and consumption of too much alcohol.

How can you take control of your work-life balance?
One research-based model suggests work-life balance is made up of three domains, and whether these apply to your situation can be identified by answering two questions each, as truthfully as possible:

1. Work interference with personal life
Do you put your personal life on hold for work?
Are you unhappy with the amount of time you have for non-work activities?

2. Personal life interference with work
Does your personal life drain you of energy for work?
Is it hard to work because of personal matters?

3. Work/personal life enhancement
Does your personal life give you energy for your job?
Do you have a better mood because of your job?

How can you improve your work-life balance?
According to Sarah Deedat, a senior public health advisor, a goal-centred approach may help you to work towards a better balance. She suggests starting with a small, achievable goal or adjustment – one that’s too easy to put off. It could be as simple as committing to leaving work on time once a week. Or you could decide on a time you’ll stop checking your emails in the evening, and stick to it. Whatever your goal is, make sure it’s specific: Where and when will you do it? And how long for? Once you’ve achieved that small behavioral goal and embedded it into your routine, move on to the next. Through regular, manageable goals you’ll gradually gain more control over the behaviors that are disrupting the work-life balance you desire.

One step at a time, using a goal-centred approach, you can take control of your work-life balance and improve your overall wellbeing.

Category(s):Happiness, Stress Management, Workplace Issues

Source material from Buka UK