Work-life balance: How to improve your work-life balance

Work-life balance: How to improve your work-life balance

No one on his deathbed ever said, ‘I wish I spent more time at the office

Paul Tsongas

Work-life balance describes dividing one’s time and energy between their work and the aspects of their personal lives. Achieving a work-life balance is challenging. At times, at can be difficult to make time for family, friends, spirituality personal growth or self-care, in addition to the demands of your workplace.

Balanced employees tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work, which thereby increases company productivity and reduces the number of conflicts among co-workers and management. When employees feel s greater sense of control and ownership over their own lives, they tend to have better relationships with their management and can leave work issues at work and home issues at home.

However, nowadays, a work-life balance seems impossible. With the advancement of technology workers are more accessible at any time of day or night. According to Forbes, fears of jobs loss incentivise longer hours at work. This includes working overtime during the dedicated weekdays and working on weekends when contracts do not specify that employees have to come in on weekends. Following a Harvard Business School Survey, 94% of working professionals reported working for more than 50 hours a week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week. Stress from the never-ending workday can damage relationships with friends, family and workmates, health and overall happiness.

Companies who gain a reputation for encouraging work-life balance have become attractive to workers and will attract a valuable pool of candidates for new job openings for your organisation. These organisations thus tend to enjoy higher employee retention rate, which results in less time-consuming training, more company loyalty and a higher degree of in-house expertise.

Employees who have a positive work-life balance do a better job at work, so stimulating this balance is beneficial to individuals and the company.

What can you consider offering as an employer?

Below are some of the different ways that employers and employees can promote work-life balance in the office without compromising productivity or efficiency.

Get some exercise

Employees who eat healthily and exercise are at less risk of getting sick and missing days from work. If you provide meals or snacks like tea and lunch choose healthier food options. This will limit the detraction from your organisation’s productivity.

Having gym facilities or aerobics classes available to your employees will encourage your employees to use these facilities if they are available. If not, perhaps consider offering your employees membership discounts at a nearby gym. This will mean also making sure that your working hours are considerate enough to allow employees to have time to go to the gym. If a non-profit organisation is hosting a charity race of any kind in the future, announce it to promote a good cause and encourage your employees to get active and support it. Do not forget to lead by example as well.

Strive for excellence, not perfectionism

Many overachievers develop perfectionist tendencies in their childhood when the demands of their time are limited to school and extracurricular activities. It is much easier to maintain that perfectionist habit as a child, but as you get older, life becomes more complicated. As you climb up the ladder at work and as your family grows and you gain more responsibilities. Perfectionism becomes harder to each and if that habit is left unchecked, it may become destructive, according to executive coach Marilyn Puder-York, PhD.

The key to avoiding burnout is to let go of perfectionism. Puder-York says, “As life gets more expanded it is very hard, both neurologically and psychologically, to keep that habit of perfection going”. The healthier option is to strive for excellence rather than perfectionism.

Go out together

One of the best ways to boost employee morale and help workers get to know one another in a non-stressful capacity is by offering an occasional company outing. This can be as low-key or as extravagant as you would like. However, this must depend on your organisation culture, size and budget to make these things happen.

An example would be to organise a company-paid lunch either at the office or at a group-friendly restaurant. You can even do this every quarter if the company reaches their target then have one or two compulsory parties such as the anniversary party of the organisation and the Christmas party. Some small companies have found great success in breakfast club programs in which employees take turns to bring their favourite breakfast foods, which can be homemade or store-bought, to share with fellow employees. This makes coming to work less dreadful for your employees.

Boss, do something about it

If you are the owner or the manager and you tend to be an overachiever or perfectionist, encourage your subordinates to take breaks. This includes you as well just so you can regroup and regain some energy to go about the rest of your day. 

Ensure you are not holding back the reigns when it comes to your employees’ work-life balance. Allow your employees to have personal lives rather than calling them in on weekend or calling and texting them outside of working hours. Learning to let go will pay dividends in building dedicated and well-motivated staff members.

Know that there is no perfect work-life balance

Most people when they hear ‘work-life’ balance, they imagine having a fruitful day at work and leaving work early to go home and live their personal lives. Spent adequate time with themselves, their families and friends. This may seem ideal, life does not always work out that way.

As an employee, do not strive for the perfect schedule. What happens in life is never certain. On some days you may prioritise work more, while on other days you may have more time and energy to pursue your hobbies or spend time with family and friends. This work-life balance is only achieved over some time and not every day. Teach yourself to manage your time well so you can have the best of both worlds healthily.

Achieving a comfortable work-life balance as a parent does not just occur randomly anymore that does a good career. It takes strategy, thought and dedication. You can make work-life balance labour of love. Find out from your employees for fellow employees what else they can do to encourage work-life balance for employees.

Sifiso Dingani is a Talent Management Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone +263 4 481946-48/ 481950/ 2900276/ 2900966 or cell number +26377 551 7211 or email sifiso@ipcconsultants.comor visit our website at      

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