We all work hard! It is a fact of life, because, unless you are financially independent, then you need to work to pay the bills and live a reasonable lifestyle. Also, most people are at least relatively happy with their jobs. Yet, if you ask someone what they want out of life, they are very unlikely to mention work at all. This is odd when you consider that we invest so much of our time and energy into working. For a lot of us, work takes up 40 – 50 hours a week and, of course, it is the source of our income. Often it is part of our social life as well, and according to a recent survey, one in five of us meet our partners through work. It seems quite possible then that the reason we don’t think of it as a life goal is that we all know that the balance between work and everything else in your life must be maintained. It tells us that your life is much more than the 9 to 5.
When the work-life balance is no longer balanced, we start to see problems
When we have too little work, the consequences of a lowered income and unfulfilled potential are obvious to all of us. I know very few people who haven’t experienced a few hard times in their lives, and fortunately, they are usually temporary. When the balance leans towards work, however, the consequences are not only unpleasant; they can be a disaster both mentally and physically.
Over the last few decades, ownership of the work-life balance has shifted
Where at one time it was down to the employee to meet the demands of the job first and the family second, the recognition of the need for stability in both has led to employers engaging with it. Chronic stress caused by overworking is a major problem and burn out, and mental health issues can accompany an overstressed working life. Mood swings, reduced general health, depression, insomnia and even heart-related problems can all result from not having the correct work-life balance.
A challenged workforce is more productive
When a workforce is challenged, engaged and feels valued, they are more productive, have increased loyalty and will even take fewer sick days. So, it simply makes sense to try to encourage a lifestyle and a working environment that supports that attitude. The opportunity for flexible working, ensuring that downtime is respected, increased social activities within the business, additional childcare leave and many other small changes have become commonplace. This has also filtered through to the process of engaging with prospective employees. A good candidate will often look for additional benefits, and a work-life balanced job role, before pursuing an opportunity. In a market with low unemployment and, for some industries, a skills-gap issue, attracting passive and specialist candidates can be paramount in assembling the right team.
Offering a work environment that promotes a strong work-life balance ethic then is about more than keeping your employees happy it can be a very useful tool when it comes to creating the right team to help a business thrive.