More than 9 in 10 organisations in the UK recognise that a work-life balance can affect their workforce and there are an increasing range of strategies to support employee wellbeing. However, the line between work-life and home-life appears to be blurring and ‘always on’ technology means it is often hard to escape. In this blog we look into the scale of the problem and some of the solutions that may help you switch off from work, remain productive and live a healthier lifestyle.
The scale of the problem
People will often categorise themselves as work to live rather than live to work but with advances in technology it’s all too easy to check an email or go that extra mile to finish a piece of work when you could be spending time with friends and family. The issue goes beyond working in the evenings though with a significant number also working whilst on annual leave.
Research by YouGov suggests that younger generations are increasingly likely to have a poor work-life balance, this is potentially influenced by the increasing use of laptops and mobile devices in the modern working environment. The under 35 age bracket can also be a prime time for many milestones such as investing in property, marriage and starting a family.
The impact on your work and your life
The drawbacks of having a poor work-life balance may appear obvious; interruption to spending time with your friends or family, partaking in leisure activities or even just relaxing in front of the television. With significant numbers of people feeling stressed at work, what impact does taking this work and stress in to your home have?
The body reacts to stress with physical, mental and emotional responses. Issues such as becoming bad tempered, more anxious or having trouble sleeping can be quite immediate and increase significantly during stressful times. Carl Laidler, Director of screening programmes, also finds long term impacts related to being stressed. “Those with high levels of stress are much more likely to have poor levels of exercise, often caused by not feeling they have the time. This in turn can lead to deterioration of their physical health and wellbeing. There are also negative coping strategies with people often likely to turn to comfort food or alcohol to help cope with stress”.
This would suggest that whilst you think that ‘going the extra mile’ when taking work home or just answering a quick email is productive and positive, in the long term it could have a negative impact. As well as work affecting your home life, the actions that you take can actually lead to a poorer performance at work.
How to keep that work-life balance
We would all like to think that we could get everything done on time but on occasions we might need to do more. An extra half hour at work may be more productive than working at home, be prepared to have nights off and weekends where you are not tempted to check an email.
Prepare some mindfulness techniques
If times are stressful, look for positive things that make you relax such as music, exercise, reading or some quiet time. Try to avoid ‘naughty’ treats so that you don’t become reliant upon them.
Are you working smart?
We can often feel like we are working hard but getting nowhere, have long conversations about something that could be resolved quickly or taking on other people’s responsibilities. Try and establish what is expected of you and plan to deliver it.
Take up a hobby
Partaking in a hobby will often involve a regular time that you are able to focus and separate from work. It will also give you something to look forward to and a sense of reward.
Talking with family and friends can help relieve stress, put things into context and become a social activity in itself. Also, don’t be afraid to communicate to your employer if you feel under pressure and are working excessive hours; they may be unaware that this is happening and provide the support that you need.
Looking after your work-life balance has the potential to make you happier and healthier in all aspects of life and improve your productivity at work!
Health Shield Insights