Individuals face demands on their time from work and life requirements. If they cannot balance the requirements, it could mean an unhealthy life or unemployment. Work-life balance has become an important topic of study and discussion because of its impact on public health and business results.
Public health is affected as high-pressure work demands can lead to stress-related illnesses. The situation is aggravated because work can affect the way one lives, and unhealthy life choices are all too common.
Business results are affected because stressed employees are poor performers and unhealthy life choices lead to a greater incidence of sickness absences.
With both governments and businesses interested in the issue, work-life balance has indeed become a centre of considerable attention.
How Work Can Affect Life
A healthy life requires attention to important life areas such as family, children, friends and hobbies. A high-pressure work situation and time spent on commuting can eat into the time available for workers to attend to these areas. As a result, these important areas tend to be neglected.
Job security has also suffered from changing trends in the industry. Information technology and competitive pressures have led to the practical disappearance of the earlier phenomenon of lifetime employment with one employer.
Employees are generally looking for better opportunities while employers might be seeking ways to reduce costs by replacing employees. Both these lead to frequent job changes and even to re-locations, adding to the stress and pressures faced by employees.
Add to these the stress of constant technological changes and the need to learn new things, and you get a future-shocked generation.
Results of Unbalanced Work-Life Situations
The rise in workplace violence, an increase in levels of absenteeism and the rising trend of workmen’s compensation claims have made employers keenly aware of the need to attend more to the work-life balance of their employees.
In the personal lives of employees, inadequate time for family life and parenting lead to marriage problems and a generation of children increasingly addicted to harmful substances and ways of life.
Pressures created by the work situation are also affecting health and sexual lives.
Achieving Better Work-Life Balance
Personal ambitions, a consumerist culture, an emphasis on “work ethic” to the neglect of personal lives and the time squeeze caused by the demands of work, commuting and personal affairs are all contributing to the upset work-life balance.
Remedial measures need to focus on certain key areas, including in particular:
- Personal training to focus employee attention on the important things for a healthy life of fulfilling relationships
- Employers realising the benefits of helping their employees find a work-life balance, through training programs, flexible working hours, and other measures
Studies have indicated that by allowing some degree of control for employees to choose when, where and how they work, employers can realise significant business benefits.
When demands of work leaves little time for important areas of life like family, children, friends and hobbies, work-life balance gets upset. The result can be felt in employee health, levels of stress, marriage, problem children, low work performance, absenteeism and so on.
Achieving a better work-life balance requires both employee training and employer orientation changes.