The key to work-life balance

 These days, there is much more awareness about creating work cultures where employee wellbeing is front and centre. Many progressive corporate cultures are exploring ways to create a better work life balance for their workforce in the effort to make them happier and more productive. Ironically though, stress is at an all-time high.

Experiencing prolonged workplace stress can ultimately lead to burn out; which can be devastating for our careers and personal lives. And despite the efforts, there is still a long way for businesses to go to achieve a truly well-adjusted workforce. 

Employees should be given more autonomy over how work gets done, they should make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible, respect employee boundaries between work and nonwork time, and increase employees’ access to paid leave. 

Walking the line between caring too much about our jobs and caring too little.

Despite the efforts businesses need to make to advocate for employee wellbeing, there’s a lot we can do at an individual level to be more responsible for our own wellbeing and those we work directly with.

We all need to find the right balance between having enough professionalism and commitment to our jobs and careers, without it being all-consuming.  In a recent article in Business Insider, journalist Kelli Korucki states “caring too much about your career makes you more likely to neglect your nonwork relationships, hobbies, and well-being. But research indicates that not caring about your work can also bring about malaise. After all, most of us have to work for a living. And it’s far more emotionally sustainable to invest the majority of your waking hours in a vocation that feeds your interests and an employer that supports your professional goals than to seethe or dissociate for those 40-odd hours of every week”. 

In fact, how we feel about our jobs is a key predictor to our overall happiness and well-being. Finding the right balance between caring enough, and not caring too much is not quite so easy. Caring too much, or more accurately, being too enmeshed in your work that it creates problems in your relationships and personal life, and you risk suffering from chronic stress and exhaustion.

On the other hand, caring too little may leave you feeling unfulfilled, disconnected and even lonely and depressed.

Leaders should also have their ears close to the ground when it comes to the workload of their staff, watching for red flags of overwhelm and overworking within their teams. We need to step away from a culture where working late into the night and on the weekend is commended.

We should encourage work cultures where calls and messaging isn’t encouraged outside of work hours. Work cultures where if someone leaves at 5pm to go to their afternoon sport commitments they don’t feel like they are letting the team down. Here are a few tips leaders can take to encourage themselves and others to strike the right balance;

1.     Set boundaries: It’s important to set clear boundaries between work and personal life. Determine how many hours should be dedicated to work and stick to them. As a leader, try to practice what you preach; when you’re off the clock, avoid checking emails or taking work-related calls.

2.     Prioritise tasks: It’s crucial to prioritise tasks and focus on the most important ones first. Help people in your team to do the same and apply pressure up if you need to protect your team from being overworked and burnt out.  No one should feel they have to constantly work overtime or on weekends to get all their work done. Be realistic about the amount of work you and your team can do. Look to other options if people are overwhelmed with work. Hire others or prioritise non-important tasks to find the right balance.

3.     Take breaks: Take regular breaks throughout the day to recharge your batteries and encourage others to do the same. Whether it’s taking a walk, grabbing a coffee, or chatting with a coworker, taking a break can help you clear your mind and come back to work feeling refreshed and more productive.

4.     Practice self-care: Make sure you’re taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. This can include things like exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities you enjoy.

Remember, finding the right balance between caring too much and caring too little about your job is an ongoing, ever-evolving process. A lot comes into play. Entrepreneurs may be more enmeshed in their work. Which is not a problem, unless it becomes a problem in their personal lives. Likewise, CEOs are well compensated to be much more invested in their work than others in the same business.

We need to weigh up the level of stress we are willing to take on, the level of investment we are willing to give to our work lives. It is tricky to find just the right balance as it varies for everyone. But striking the right balance is vitally important for all of us. 

Have you found your work life balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help.

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