Updated: May 29, 2020
It’s no secret that many of us are juggling many responsibilities daily. We are required to split our time between a demanding work schedule, family obligations, hobbies, and other interests. No wonder a large number of working Americans admit to experiencing high levels of stress. The pressure to meet the ever-changing demands of corporate America, coupled with the longing for outside social connection, is enough to consume even the most notable employees. Many resolve to seeking careers that allow them to have a work/life balance. The real question is, does it even exist?
WHAT IS WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Work/life balance is a state of equilibrium in which the demands of both the person’s job and personal life are equal (Lockwood, 2003). The phrase work/life balance started to trend in the 1980s and 1990s. Many organizations began to implement work/life initiatives mainly to support women with children (Lockwood, 2003). Soon after, global organizations started to follow suit and offer more flexible work options to their employees.
WHY SHOULD ORGANIZATIONS CARE ABOUT WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
The traditional family structure has evolved. Families are no longer defined only by married men and women with children. Organizations must adapt to the reality that families consist of single parents, blended families, caregivers of elderly parents, and families who share custody of children. These realities add to the mental and emotional strains of employees.
Lockwood (2003) found in a study of over 1,500 participants that least 70% of employees stated that they failed to find a healthy balance between their personal life and work life. Stressed-out employees tend to find less satisfaction and purpose in their work, leading to chronic absenteeism, tardiness, disengagement, poor performance, and organizational sabotage. Organizations that help employees balance the pressures of work and personal lives reap the benefits of:
· Increased Productivity
· A positive perspective of the organization
· Improved Morale
· Lower Absenteeism
· Greater Employee Morale
· Reduced Turnover
These are all significant reasons for organizations to take a more in-depth look into work/life balance initiatives.
WHAT CAN ORGANIZATIONS DO?
Simply stated, make it happen. Simple communication and policy changes can make a huge difference:
· Encourage employees to take breaks. A few moments away from work can be rejuvenating.
· Offer EAP Programs as part of the employee’s healthcare plan.
· Consider opportunities for employees to work remotely.
· Simply ask the employee what would work best for them. Some of my most successful projects were based on the ideas and feedback from employees.
Organizations have a substantial opportunity to positively impact the company culture and retain strong talent by addressing the concerns of work/life balance in the workplace. Employees are not robots. Their issues do not go away once they punch the time clock. Imagine having employees who come to work feeling supported, accepted, and highly regarded. The quality of employees’ personal lives directly impacts the quality of their performance (Lockwood, 2003).
THE NEED FOR AN EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
I am a strong supporter of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) in the workplace. It is an underrated and underutilized resource that will allow employees to deal with the pressures of life.
EAP’s are voluntary work-based programs offering various services such as counseling, at no cost to the employee. EAP’s are useful in providing resources for employees dealing with challenges ranging from financial strains to managing a serious illness (Employee Assistance Programs, 2020). HR must be diligent in getting active buy-in from organizational leadership and communicating these options to employees. Not only can organizations help employees handle life’s circumstances, but the perfect opportunity presents itself for impactful company branding. Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that focuses on the overall wellbeing of its employees?
DOES WORK/LIFE BALANCE EXIST?
Is work-life balance something that truly exists, or is it a notion that is subjective?. Perhaps Iit depends on the lifestyle, priorities, and responsibilities of the individual. Some days work may overpower one’s personal life and vice versa. Instead of striving for work/life balance, consider aiming for overall balance. Take steps to improve your time management. Utilize resources and programs that will help alleviate the angsts of life. Finding balance in life is a progressive process that yields long term benefits for organizations and employees.
1. Lockwood, N. R. (2003). Work/life balance: Challenges and solutions, SHRM Research. Retrieved from https://deepcbds.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Work_Life_balance_Challenges_and_Solutio.pdf
2. Employee assistance programs. (2020). Center for Workplace Mental Health. Retrieved from