Time flies when you are having fun. Time also flies when you are busy. Achieving balance has long been a burning issue for almost everyone. Researchers however, have shown that workforces in countries with longer work hours aren’t always as productive as those in countries with shorter work hours. While people are spending more time at work, they aren’t necessarily achieving more. People who are able to balance their work with other responsibility and interests, tend to be more motivated and productive.
The work-life balance debate assumes that individuals have too much rather than too little work. The ideal worklife balance is very personal concept. Work-life balance is about ensuring work doesn't take up more of your life than it should. It is about ensuring work doesn't take up more of your life than you want it to. It’s dynamic and has different elements for different individuals at different times. Most of the time worklife balance is confused with finding ways to work less or to work flexibly. It’s true that for some people fewer hours or flexibility are the most important elements of a good balance.
In concept, worklife balance is the feeling of being in control of your life, able to exercise choice and find equilibrium between your own needs and those of others. Three major factors contribute to the interest in, and the importance of, serious consideration of work/life balance:
- Global competition;
- Renewed interest in personal lives/ family values; and
- An aging workforce.
Work/life balance means different things to different groups.
Work-life balance consists of three components:
- time balance refers to equal time being given to both work and family roles;
- involvement balance refers to equal levels of psychological involvement in both work and family roles;
- satisfaction balance refers to equal levels of satisfaction in both work and family roles.
Work-family conflict can take two forms:
- work to family conflict
- strain-based and;
- behaviour-based conflict
- family to work conflict
Both work to family conflict and family to work conflict are associated with negative effects for individual. Work-family conflict was more prevalent in men. Levels of work-life conflict have been associated with workaholism. Work-family conflict causes problems for individuals and organisations.
Surveyover 700 manufacturing firms in France, Germany, the UK and the United States about management practices and work-life balance found:
- Well-managed firms do not work ‘harder’ but ‘smarter’
- management practices associated with good ‘people management’
Most workers look to managers for cues about what is and is not acceptable; such as managers who openly take time for family or community responsibilities demonstrate that it’s okay and that they won’t be penalized. Sometimes it’s difficult to reconcile a company’s perception of its support of work-life balance with the reality.
Make spaces in your life
- Make it a rule not to take your work home. If you have to do this, it should be the rare exception to the rule.
- When at home, define when and where you will work, and stick to these parameters.
- Give your family and friends your full attention when you are with them.
- Laugh more often.
- Look for and enjoy humour on a regular basis. Share a laugh with family, friends, and colleagues. Add fun to work, hobbies, family.
Work-life balance is a concern not just for women, but also for men who are tired of missing out on the rest of life. Many employers still expect or assume that both female and male employees, regardless of their priorities or personal situations, will make work their top concern. The generation of workers now entering the job market isn’t willing to sacrifice their lives for work. Research found that almost three-quarters of workers are willing to put their careers on a back burner in favour of family.
Andrée Rochfort MICGP LFOM, Worklife balance and beating burnout
FAMILY ISSUES AND WORK-LIFE BALANCE, https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/e-facts/e-fact-57-family-issues-work-life-balance
Nancy R. Lockwood, Work/Life Balance: Challenges and Solutions, http://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/articles/documents/0302wl.pdf
Nick Bloom, Tobias Kretschmer and John Van Reenen, Work-life balance: the links with management practices and productivity, http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/CP202.pdf
When Work and Life Balance, Everyone Wins, http://www.hermanmiller.com/content/dam/hermanmiller/documents/research_summaries/wp_Work_Life_Balance.pdf