WORK – LIFE BALANCE: A MUST FOR THE MIDDLE AND HIGHER LEVEL PROFESSIONAL
By: Nana Osae Addo-Dankwa (C.E.O)
Gifty Oye Adjei (Investment Analyst)
According to the Cambridge Business English Dictionary, work-life balance is defined as the amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend with your family doing the things you enjoy. In simple terms, work-life balance is the separation between your work life and your personal life. It is about people feeling satisfied with the way they divide their time and energy between paid work and all the other things they need and want to do and is no doubt a very critical issue that is claiming increasing attention in the corporate world today.
Lately, it is not surprising to hear people complain all the time that there are not enough hours in a day. Between working, replying e-mails and text messages, commuting, picking up kids from school, household chores among other daily activities, the 24 hours of the day fly by and there is no time for people to enjoy life, relax with family and friends and do the things they say they would do.
In today’s demanding and fast-paced work environment coupled with the advancements in the way people access information, communicate with one another and complete tasks, most professionals are urged to do more, faster and with fewer resources. Many of these professionals consequently tend to have problems with conflicting demands on their time. The end result is that it becomes increasingly difficult for them to draw a clear distinction between work and their personal lives.
Over the past few months, we have all witnessed the sudden and tragic passing of some young professionals who were at the prime of their lives and careers. Talk of Joy Fm and BBC’s Komla Dumor and Richard Jonah, the son of business magnate Sir Sam Jonah who both died of cardiac arrest. CNN’s digital reporter Lateef Mungin also passed away recently after suffering a seizure at work. The deaths of these young men have led to many speculations as to what might have caused them to die at such a prime age, with many tracing their sudden deaths to the pressures of work.
Personally, I believe their deaths reinforce the need for the corporate world to seriously adopt the concept of work-life balance in order to avoid such occurrences as much as possible. But one may ask, whose responsibility is it to create work-life balance? The employer or the employee??? A quick answer is perhaps: “It’s the employees who are responsible for their private lives and therefore also responsible for a balance between their work and private lives.” But it is clearly also a key management responsibility to establish preconditions for a functioning work-life-balance. Hence we can safely conclude that both employers and employees have a role to play in creating and maintaining work-life balance.
Creating Work-Life Balance – The Employers Role
In the current economic environment, work-life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes – second only to compensation, according to a research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board among more than 50,000 global workers. Also, employees who feel they have a better work-life balance work 21% more than those that don’t.
Therefore as more and more professionals seek a better work-life balance, companies are required to adopt more flexible policies to accommodate shifting priorities. Employers can encourage a healthy balance between work and life by adopting effective work-life balance policies such as:
- Flexible working hours.
- Free health screening
- Sponsored club/gym participation
- Paid child education
- Free life assurance cover
- Company support in major life situations such as when an employee is bereaved
Employers who institute such policies at their workplaces can have a positive impact on their employees as this enables them to not only create a happy, less stressful working environment, but also helps to attract and retain top talent. Adoption of the work-life balance concept at the workplace is in fact an investment that guarantees handsome dividends for the employer as it creates a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.
The employer ultimately enjoys benefits such as creating a positive employer branding and competitive edge, being an employer of choice, improving productivity and creating more satisfied and fulfilled workers simply by adopting some of these work-life initiatives.
Achieving Work-Life Balance (Employees’ Perspective)
For employees, creating work-life balance is critical for meeting the challenges of today’s complex work and social environments. However, there is no single formula for achieving work-life balance. It is a personal decision how one combines his/her work life and personal life. Here are some useful tips for employees who want to achieve a healthy work-life balance:
Set Priorities and stick to them: Prioritizing daily tasks is key to achieving a healthy work-life balance for employees. When you prioritize, you list your activities and tasks in order of importance and then make sure you accomplish the most important tasks first.
Use technology to your advantage: Technology should help make your life easier, not control it. Employees are advised to take their time to “unplug”- that is, banning technology at certain times so that they can focus on their families and friends. Setting personal boundaries in the use of technology helps workers to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.
Learn to delegate: Accept that you cannot do everything on your own and learn to delegate tasks effectively when the need arises. Effective delegation is about identifying the right person for the task and giving that person the right resources and information to complete the task. By delegating responsibly, you will have the time and mental capacity to concentrate on the more important tasks.
Get enough Sleep: Sleep is something we all sometimes take for granted. Many of us think that when we work longer, we are being more productive. However, when you are sleep deprived, it is difficult to focus and function properly. Therefore, it is advisable for workers to get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night in order to boost productivity at work.
Set time aside for fun and relaxation: Make a conscious effort to plan regular “dates” with your family and friends. Spend focused quality time with your loved ones by doing something you all enjoy like going to the beach, going shopping or playing a game together.
Create time for yourself: Don’t forget to also include some personal time in your schedule to indulge in hobbies such as reading, gardening, knitting, etc. Taking time for yourself allows you to de-stress, unwind and rejuvenate.
In conclusion, it is evident that workers who are not able to create a work-life balance increase their risk of suffering from stress, burnout and physical ailments like heart diseases. Thus even though achieving an effective work-life balance may not be an easy task, modern day professionals must all strive to have a healthy work-life balance since it promotes a better quality of life.
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