What is Work-Life balance?
Being at work isn’t the same as it used to be for those who don’t work anymore, your grandparents. Ask them, and they’ll tell you how it used to be, how was their work-life balance. Work wasn’t as stressful as it’s now. It was less intense, both in terms of time and pressure.
The need for complexity comes along with the growth in civilization, which went to a massive rise in demand and, ultimately, stiffer competition. And as luxuries turn into comforts and comforts into necessities, people have to work harder to live up to the standards.
Moreover, the quality of living has risen drastically, and the cost of living has to cope with the quality raising itself to a level it becomes difficult for most of the population unless they exhaust themselves.
Now may it be the necessities, food, and clothes, they are too not an exception. Simplicity isn’t on the menu anymore, at least for most of the world. Restaurant culture and fashion have revolutionized how things used to be before a century from now.
The point of discussion for us is that this has led to an exhausted man coming back home, tired and drained—the man who hardly has any free time. Someone who is left with very little energy is sometimes overwhelmed with negative emotions that he couldn’t steam out in the workplace.
All that he needs the most when he comes home is rest, and sleep, and not to forget the necessity to let his emotions out sometimes, which could be disastrous for the whole family.
We need to understand that our lives have people around us who are very much linked with us, who are deeply connected with us, and who are inseparable. We have a family which inarguably comes first, friends who also are a crucial part of our personal lives, and the people we work with, including the boss.
Now all these people have us also as part of their lives, and we have our needs, desires, sentiments, and emotions connected. We’re connected with different chains, where one ring could disturb the whole ecology of that system.
What I’m trying to make you think about is the priorities we have in our lives. Have me set the right preferences, I mean there has to be a hierarchy of these things, are they set right? In simple words, or say let me give you some questions to ponder,
- Why do you work?
- Why do you tolerate what is distasteful in the workplace?
- Why do you tolerate what is distasteful in the home?
- Whom do you work for? It’s not you alone, is it?
We work for the well-being of ourselves and our family, our loved ones, whom we value more than anything else in this world. Being so crucial in our lives, what exactly do they need from us? Is it just the money?
Well, at this point you’re free to jump to the solution part, which I know you’re interested in most, but my suggestion is to understand the problem to deal with it mindfully.
Determinants of Work-life balance:
The time you work for
Every responsibility to be fulfilled needs time so do work and family. How much time do you give to your work is how much you need to. But how much time you give to your life after work is how much time you are left with, don’t forget to exclude the sleeping hours, though.
Jobs and professions are versatile. And so are the necessities, responsibilities, and time required to get the job done. Some jobs are too restricted, and some are autonomous like you are free to work with your ease of time, the concern is to get the work done. Now the flexibility on this might have an impact but not provenly much.
What’s more importantly, proven here is the fact that those who have the authority to make decisions in work are the ones who also are equipped to manage life outside work better. Research in Psychosomatic Medicine (Vol. 64, No. 3) reports that low-control jobs for a working life were associated with a 43% increase in the chance of death
Let’s say, maybe the decision-making skills aid them in making better decisions in their personal lives too. It’s an assumption, though.
Employees who tend to be socially active with peers at work are also the ones who have fewer issues with life outside work. In other words, you’ll also be active socially at home as you are in the office.
Such people get social support from their peers as they know how to get along, and also, they are cooperative and naturally get back the favor. The same pattern of life goes on with family also for such people, and they enjoy the support from both sides as they render their support everywhere.
It could be a boon or a bane, depending on who you are and what type of family you have got. Those people who are married and have kids will have more work-life problems. Such people have to lead a double life, fulfilling the needs of both worlds.
On the other side, some people have someone to lighten their burden of stress at home, especially the workload stress. They might have a supportive spouse, a parent, or anyone in a family who is supportive and could act as a mentor or a shoulder to lean on.
Though both genders go through difficulty in the work-life balance based on other determinants discussed, we must consider the responsibility a lady takes of the household. Generally, women are more connected to the family and so are more dedicated to the cause.
It’s generally the lady of the house who takes the burden of the household chores, unavoidable ones, and the morally obligatory ones too. Hence there’s a better chance of women going through a work-life imbalance. Say, ladies need more personal time.
A study has also noted a significant rise in the risk of cardiovascular complexities was more in women with work-life conflicts.
Setting boundaries between the family and work
Some people fail to draw a line between family and work, which stands as a hurdle to achieving work-life balance. Most of them give their quality time to one side, compromising the other part of life, often their personal life.
Maybe the lower motivation level gets the energy drained in work life, and they are left with no fuel for quality family time later in the day, disrupting the balance of work and family life.
Not all professions are equal when it comes to stress levels, which leads to an unhealthy work-life balance. A report shows that the worst affected jobs are that of reporters, abusive social workers, graphic designers, financial managers, logisticians, lawyers, and surgeons. This effect again may vary from country to country and even office to office.
Though there are specific jobs that implicate substantial stress levels, conditions apply. Some work environments or regional demands might make a not-so-stressful situation stressful and vice versa.
Single or multi career
Another factor that will influence the work-life balance of employees is whether he or she is working multi shifts or multi careers. If anyone is playing dual roles, in fact, a triple role in our case, if we include a family person being one, then it’s obvious to be challenging to maintain the balance.
The stress level one has to carry from one place to another; availability of time is a prominent factor here for being too occupied. No matter how many professions you are doing, you still have the same 24 hours, where you need to sleep also.
And it’s not just about the time; it’s the burden of responsibility one carries along by taking multiple jobs on their shoulders.
Studies have been made to present models and types of relationships between work life and personal life; this might help you achieve a healthy work-life balance if understood and dealt with mindfully.
A few models explain the relationship between work life and then out-of-work life.
The segmentation model:
Work and personal life are different domains of a life that are independent of each other. Hence one area has no influence on the other according to this model.
The Spillover model:
It’s like you are carrying a bowl, and it gets filled in your office, and you come and spill it over at home. The only thing is that it’s not fluid, you’re filling emotions, and you spill the same feelings in the other place.
It’s observed that working parents generally bring workplace emotions to home, and the mood carries on, which may be irrelevant to the home environment.
The Compensation model:
This model describes the condition where both domains have different sets of emotions in an attempt to compensate for each other. If you don’t get what you desire or deserve in one place, then you try to overcompensate the same in another place.
If you are not having perfect office time, no good relations, or a tough, stressful time, then you’d try to compensate for that in a home by being too good to your family.
The resource drain model
This model refers to the drain of resources from one domain to another. Resources like time, money, motivation and attention or focus are limited, and once we are depleted of those resources, then we need another day to get refueled.
The Enrichment model
Imagine you’re getting better with every task in your life. You get a lot of functions in your work life, and if you upgrade your personality by that, then this certainly should help you in your personal life too. It’s like enriching your skills to use in multiple domains of life.
The Congruence model
It’s not only the workplace or family that might help you achieve a work-life balance, but it’s you who might be the one. It might be your traits, your personality, your psychological mindset, your emotional intelligence, and your intellect, which is responsible for your work-life balance or imbalance; this has nothing to do directly with any of the two domains, though.
How much work are you able to do in work time?
Do you carry forward your today’s work for tomorrow? That’s going to keep you mentally occupied for the bulk you’ve to clear tomorrow.
And your subconscious will be busy planning how to do it or mourning tomorrow’s hectic day already. Which will ultimately affect your personal life?
Do you find yourself indulging in unnecessary conversations in office hours? If you find it affirmative then, you’re compromising your quality time for petty gossip.
You might not be able to complete your work on time and may have to work longer hours or even work from home to compensate for the waste of time gossiping.
Do you carry along the burden?
You being a very sincere and responsible employee are very concerned and emotionally involved with work, which of course you should be. But, do you carry that stress in the disguise of a sense of responsibility outside the office? You shouldn’t.
Do you use time beyond office hours for the due tasks?
Are you forced to do overtime to finish the day’s task for some reason? Making it different from what we already discussed above, it could be a lack of skill level to attain the required efficiency for the job. It has to be mastered or at least practiced then.
Reports and surveys:
How long are people working?
- Richer countries work fewer hours.
- Developed countries have 1500 to 1750 working hours annually while not so developed countries have more than 2500 annual working hours.
- Better productivity comes with lesser working hours.
- Less work and more cooperation in the housework make it less time-consuming and more productive.
Of the working time how much is productive?
- A study shows that we are productive for only three hours a day, in fact, 7 minutes less to be precise.
- Reading news, checking emails, and social media, talking with colleagues, making coffee, taking breaks, making personal calls, and searching for new jobs are the major distractions.
How much overtime does an average person give?
- Depending on the industry, ranges between 5% to 25%
- According to one study, 20% of employees work 60% overtime.
Reference from here.
American Heart Association experts note in an Oct. 10 press release that chronic stress increases inflammation in the body, which negatively affects the heart.
three to four hours of continuous, undisturbed deep work each day is all it takes to see a transformational change in our productivity and our lives.
Cal Newport, best–selling author of Deep Work
- Family commitment compromised
- Marital distress
- Mental health issues
- Physical health issues
- Lower self-satisfaction
- Rising incidents of abuse.
- Parental problems, and as a resulting rise of juvenile delinquency and violence
- Reduced productivity
- Lower job satisfaction.
- The lower level of organizational loyalty.
- Rising mental health issues
- Rising physical health issues.
- Negative impact on social life.
- Be very efficient when you work.
- When work time’s up, don’t work.
- Forget about work when you’re in your zone of life.
- Refuel yourself on weekends. Do what you like, what motivates you, and what energizes you.
- Rest, be fresh. Get some solitude. Take short breaks.
- Discuss it with the employee.
- Know that there is no perfect life, hence no ideal work-life balance. Even if you have something valuable from one domain because of the other, it happens, you’re a human being. Don’t overthink it.
- Maintain a shared calendar; both domains are an integral part of your life, after all—set priorities between the activities of both work and living.
- Love your job, find a lovable one. So that you carry forward your love from one side to another, all the time.
- Give priority to what’s more important, your health and family.
- Be bold, even if you have to switch.
- Take time away from work with your loved ones.
- Restrict unproductive activities
- Try to have both your office and a house nearby to limit traveling strain.
- If you work from home, then read this.
- Know your chronotype, or the biological schedule. The time when you’re most efficient, the time when you better sleep, etc., and plan your day and life accordingly.
- Learn to be happy.
- Unplug, when you know that any notification, maybe email or social media, could distract you.
- Don’t set others as your reference; you are different.
- Stay strong.