Work / Life Balance
(and the struggle to maintain equlibrium)

by Emmanuelle Sangster

How is your work / life balance? As a sibling, spouse, mother, mentor or friend are you satisfied with how you juggle meeting job role demands and your home-life schedule? [1] Have you ever allowed your home life to suffer on the back of work commitments? You’re not alone. Some employers have stated that reportedly 97% of their employees struggle with this concept.[2]

 So how can we achieve more equilibrium between these two opposing sides? It’s important to remember that work is only one part of our lives [3] and our daily routines contain so many other components, which combined together make us who we are.

 We must also take time to realise what it is that is imbalanced and what causes this, so we can try to improve. There could be indeed several reasons as to why an employee fails to achieve an optimum balance. The ideal may be to mould a life that satisfies both their work demands and what they want to achieve in their home or social lives.


 Let me introduce a scenario:

 Imagine you are working in a UK-based company, yet you’re involved in projects that require daily communication with employees within in the USA.[4] Ever scheduled a 2am meeting? Take some time to think about the how this would affect and impact your working routine.

 Last year, I was given an insight into the circumstances of this struggle, whereby individuals were reportedly restricted due to the job’s scheduling demands. A former lecturer of mine had knowledge of this experience and it could mean they would potentially be working on a completely different time zone from their social circle and their families. This is a perhaps irregular, but nevertheless a real example and interesting insight of how our work demands has the power to completely disrupt our work-life balance.

 Certain countries are moving towards better working hours for their employees. Sweden are leading the way, with just 1% of employees working more than 50 hours per week, one of the lowest numbers reported among The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which averages 13%.[5]

 However, despite this, there are restrictions that are being put in place in some areas. French companies, for example, are currently under consideration for the renegotiation of their newly established 35-hour working week.[6] Employers now have the right to be able to negotiate with their employees longer working hours whilst lowering their pay.[7] In this circumstance, employees may have to take on longer working hours, in order to compensate for the pay reduction.

 Furthermore, even despite regulation and standards in place, employees may feel pressure to overwork themselves above standard working hours in order to advance in their career and climb up the career ladder. A senior counsellor in France described his workweek as 45-50 hours, roughly 9am until 7:30pm in the evening,[8] despite countries national average. Could the idea of achieving a good balance between home and their work be lost on individuals who are trying to advance fast within their career?

 The emphasis must therefore be placed on both businesses and staff about the importance of employee work-life balance, and the impact it can have on job performance.


 “If employees don’t have time to relax and recharge, their ability to do their job decreases and their performance level suffers”.[9]


 Therefore, if you’re going for that promotion, relaxation out of work hours and shutting off the work laptop could be an important part of it. Writers at “Boundless” note that good work-life balance increases job satisfaction[10], whilst another writer states it helps with employee motivation, loyalty to the organisation and lowers absenteeism within an organisation.[11]

 It is notable though that a good balance would be different for each employee. Flexitime hours for example are a good way for an employee to tailor a work schedule around his or her out-of-office schedule. Nevertheless, businesses like those in Sweden have a reputation for recognising the link between work/life balance, health and profitability[12] and it is time that the rest of the world to catch up and do the same.


Reference list:

[1] Source: Burn, M., S., 2015: “How’s Your Work Life Balance?” Psychologytoday.com Presence of mind blog, [blog] 07 Sep. 2015. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/presence-mind/201509/hows-your-work-life-balance

 

[2] Source: Jowitt, J., 2016. Work-life balance: flexible working can make you ill, experts say. The Guardian Online. [online] 2 Jan. 2016. Retrieved 20 Nov 2016 from

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/02/work-life-balance-flexible-working-can-make-you-ill-experts-say

 

[3] Source: Cahillane, L., 2016. “How to: Achieve a work-life balance” Employment law. Reed.co.uk, N.D., 2016. Retrieved 20Nov 2016 from

https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-achieve-a-worklife-balance/

 

[4] Source: Cahillane, L., 2016. “How to: Achieve a work-life balance” Employment law. Reed.co.uk, N.D., 2016. Retrieved 20Nov 2016 from

https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-achieve-a-worklife-balance/

 

[5] Source: Savage, M., 2016. The truth about Sweden’s short working hours. BBC News Online. [online] 2 Nov. 2015. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34677949

 

[6] Source: Chazan, D., 2016. France reviews its 35-working week. The Telegraph Online. [online] 25 Jan. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12120927/France-reviews-its-35-hour-working-week.html

 

[7] Source: Chazan, D., 2016. France reviews its 35-working week. The Telegraph Online. [online] 25 Jan. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12120927/France-reviews-its-35-hour-working-week.html

 

[8] Source: Venturi, R., 2014. Busting the myth of France’s 35-hour workweek. BBC Capital Online. [online] 23 March 2014. Retrieved 20 Nov from:

http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140312-frances-mythic-35-hour-week

 

[9] Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Work-Life Balance.” Boundless Management. Boundless, 08 Aug. 2016. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from 

https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/human-resource-management-7/current-topics-in-human-resource-management-60/the-importance-of-work-life-balance-303-7294/

 

[10] Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Work-Life Balance.” Boundless Management. Boundless, 08 Aug. 2016. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from 

https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/human-resource-management-7/current-topics-in-human-resource-management-60/the-importance-of-work-life-balance-303-7294/

 

 

[11] Source: (NBI) NIBusinessInfo.co.uk, N.D. Promote good work/life balance in your business. [online] Available at:

https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/advantages-improved-worklife-balance

 

[12]Source: Savage, M., 2016. The truth about Sweden’s short working hours. BBC News Online. [online] 2 Nov. 2015. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34677949

 

[1] Source: Burn, M., S., 2015: “How’s Your Work Life Balance?” Psychologytoday.com Presence of mind blog, [blog] 07 Sep. 2015. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/presence-mind/201509/hows-your-work-life-balance

 [2] Source: Jowitt, J., 2016. Work-life balance: flexible working can make you ill, experts say. The Guardian Online. [online] 2 Jan. 2016. Retrieved 20 Nov 2016 from https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/jan/02/work-life-balance-flexible-working-can-make-you-ill-experts-say

[3] Source: Cahillane, L., 2016. “How to: Achieve a work-life balance” Employment law. Reed.co.uk, N.D., 2016. Retrieved 20Nov 2016 from: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-achieve-a-worklife-balance/

 [4] Source: Cahillane, L., 2016. “How to: Achieve a work-life balance” Employment law. Reed.co.uk, N.D., 2016. Retrieved 20Nov 2016 fromhttps://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/how-to-achieve-a-worklife-balance/

 [5] Source: Savage, M., 2016. The truth about Sweden’s short working hours. BBC News Online. [online] 2 Nov. 2015. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34677949

 [6] Source: Chazan, D., 2016. France reviews its 35-working week. The Telegraph Online. [online] 25 Jan. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12120927/France-reviews-its-35-hour-working-week.html

[7] Source: Chazan, D., 2016. France reviews its 35-working week. The Telegraph Online. [online] 25 Jan. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/12120927/France-reviews-its-35-hour-working-week.html

[8] Source: Venturi, R., 2014. Busting the myth of France’s 35-hour workweek. BBC Capital Online. [online] 23 March 2014. Retrieved 20 Nov from: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20140312-frances-mythic-35-hour-week

[9] Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Work-Life Balance.” Boundless Management. Boundless, 08 Aug. 2016. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/human-resource-management-7/current-topics-in-human-resource-management-60/the-importance-of-work-life-balance-303-7294/

[10] Source: Boundless. “The Importance of Work-Life Balance.” Boundless Management. Boundless, 08 Aug. 2016. Retrieved 21 Nov. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/management/textbooks/boundless-management-textbook/human-resource-management-7/current-topics-in-human-resource-management-60/the-importance-of-work-life-balance-303-7294/

[11] Source: (NBI) NIBusinessInfo.co.uk, N.D. Promote good work/life balance in your business. [online] Available at:https://www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk/content/advantages-improved-worklife-balance

[12]Source: Savage, M., 2016. The truth about Sweden’s short working hours. BBC News Online. [online] 2 Nov. 2015. Retrieved 20 Nov. 2016 from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34677949