One definition of work-life balance is ‘the extent to which individuals are equally involved in- and equally satisfied with- their work role and their family role'.
Does this ring true for you? Are you satisfied with both your work and family roles? Do you feel your time and effort is split effectively between the two? If not, your work-life balance is out of sync.
Why does it matter?
Surveys show that 25% of workers in Great Britain work more than 48 hours per week. Whereas in other parts of Europe, a typical working week is around 35 hours. Interestingly, it’s been shown that economic development comes with a decrease not an increase in working hours. In fact, economically comfortable countries such as Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Germany have some of the lowest working hours in the world according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development).
Researchers have found that there is a hill shaped relationship between productivity and working hours – i.e. work too few or too many hours and work will suffer.
If the work-life balance is out of sync, it also not surprisingly affects your mental and physical health. In addition, conflicts between work and family time will place a burden on relationships with partners, friends and children.
So what small steps can be taken to boost your work-life balance?
1. Don’t follow the crowd
If everyone in your workplace stays late every day it can be difficult to leave on time. But make a stand. If you’re struggling to get your work completed in the regular hours, speak to your manager to try and work together to find a solution. September 25 is national ‘Go Home on Time Day’ so plan something fun with friends or family that evening!
2. Switch off
Turn off your emails and work phone in the evenings and at weekends. Even if you’re not in your work place, you’ll find it impossible to switch off if you’re constantly on call. If you really must check in, set yourself specific, short time periods to do so.
3. Set boundaries
If you’re self-employed it can be difficult to make the definition between work time and free-time. Sticking with regular hours each day can help, or give yourself a set number of working hours each day and plan leisure time every day.
4. Be flexible
If you’re a manager or director of a company, encourage flexible hours, working from home, lunch breaks and after-work leisure activities when possible. Flexibility is the most important factor in influencing job satisfaction.
Written by Ruth Tongue