It's National Work Life Week!
A week dedicated to both employers and employees alike to focus on wellbeing at work as well as a work-life balance. When this week arrives each year, it is very much needed as a constant reminder for everyone to stop, take stock and place value of having a work-life balance where distinct boundaries are in place to ensure all team members, not matter their seniority, has the opportunity to switch off from work and enjoy a balanced life.
Life as we know it
It goes without saying that this past 20+ months has put enormous strain on people's wellbeing, physical and emotional. There's been a huge sense of loss, be it loosing people due to COVID-19, or loss in terms of what we planned and set out to achieve. In addition, there's been a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the workspace as to what the future will look like and will it be business as usual. Most people are experiencing pandemic fatigue, which is a feeling of exhaustion and demoralisation that comes from living within the pandemic and how that impacts all aspects of our lives. For some, they feel stripped of all motivation and passion, for others they constantly feel lethargic and no energy to perform.
Underlying this unstable patch, employees are feeling even more overworked, stretched to capacity, often feel undervalued and this has the potential to spiral downwards rapidly and drastically affect mental health, especially while some are still working from home, others hybrid working and others returned to work as normal. Employees are continuing to go above and beyond to hold onto their jobs while uncertainties still exist.
Fortunately, there has been a lot more emphasis put on introducing initiatives on employee / employer wellbeing within businesses and making it a more approachable topic, where employees are not terrified for opening up in fear of judgement and the fear of how it could affect their jobs.
Is a work-life balance possible?
A work-life balance seems to be the euphoric end goal of all businesses and employees. It’s something which everyone aims to achieve, yet often falls short due to the stressful demands of work, the long hours, always being connected and the digital era we find ourselves a part of. This loose term refers to how employees distribute their time between their personal and professional obligations and often means something different to everyone.
The golden question remains, can one truly and fully switch off from the corporate mindset, and leapfrog into the personal once? Or are the two too intertwined, especially with the potential to be connected 24/7? Employees are constantly striving to achieve a healthy balance, and often struggle when they cannot fully attain it. Encouraging employees to take time out during the day, be it multiple coffee breaks or a proper lunch hour, and not bombarding them with emails, deadlines and requests over the weekend and in the evening will cultivate a feeling of compassion and confidence, that in turn will allow employees to feel at ease and not guilty for asking for (necessary) time off.
5 ways to create a work-life balance
1. Set boundaries at work
We all know how difficult it is to set realistic boundaries at work, especially if you're early on in your career and are still looking to impress. However, there is often a sense of confusion between the desire to show how motivated an employee is with the need to continually having to say yes. Clear boundaries will also set expectations of what an employee can and cannot handle. For example, if an email comes in at 10PM, is it business critical to show you're online and reply, or can it wait until first thing the following morning?
2. Prioritise your health
One's physical, mental and emotional health should be at the top of the agenda. Ensuring good health doesn't need to consist of radical activities, but can include daily meditations or exercise. Overworking and having no balance is counter-productive and will lead to burn out. A healthy employee will miss less work, will be more productive and proactive and will feel more cared for long-term. If going to an appointment or a personal session of some sort, schedule that time in your calendar. Remember, there is a life outside of work which if balanced correctly, will lead to the optimum happy place of work-life.
3. Transitional time to unwind
Everyday try creating a small buffer of space and time between your working hours and your relaxation time. Ever contemplated your journey to and from work be it walking, driving or on a train? It’s time to stop and think, to mentally prepare and plan what’s to come. You’re automatically forced to have this ‘white space’ when having two distinct locations. This should be scheduled transitional time, time to debrief and decompress and get into your alternate mindset. By doing this you can achieve a more balanced work-life medium where you’re aware of the distinction between the two.
4. Go off the grid in the evening
This is easier said than done, especially as we're living in an always connected, fast paced digital world where we never turn off. It's so important to step off the grid and turn off all digital devices and have some downtime to differentiate between your personal and professional duties. Turn your laptop off, don’t check you work calls or emails and totally switch off from your working demands.
5. Schedule on and off times in your diary
A great tip to achieving this work-life balance is to create and stick to a schedule. This way your colleagues and managers will know which hours you’re reachable and when you’re logged off to do personal matters. By ensuring you do have that down time, will allow you to recharge your batteries, so to speak, as well as be productive during your working hours. Block out times in your diary when you’re not at your laptop or desk, so your team know not to disturb you, the exact same when you’re on a lunch break when working from the office.
Looking for more ways to support your employees in gaining a better work life balance? Book a demo with one of our Employee Engagement Consultants to find out more.