Helping your employees achieve a work life balance is vital to help prevent structural issues and ensure organisational success.
When the balance is level between any two things in life homoeostasis is achieved. Ensuring your employees enjoy a healthy work life balance is the key to drawing out the best in them within the workplace.
If you’re accustomed to being the last one to leave the office, new research may offer you cause to rethink your approach. A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that long working hours resulted in a 40 to 80 percent greater chance of heart disease compared to an eight hour work day.
Research also found that employees working 55 hours or more per week had poorer brain function than those working no more than 40 hours. These tests measured intelligence, short-term memory and word recall.
So why do we feel compelled to work longer and harder when the evidence overwhelmingly finds that working shorter hours leads to increased effectiveness?
A common example is when a person works harder and harder to close the gap between what they are achieving, and what they think they should be achieving. They stop taking proper lunch breaks, they put aside their personal needs and lose their sense of enjoyment, and feel guilty when they are not working.
This creates exhaustion, their performance deteriorates, and they become more anxious, because they aren’t making the progress they want. It leads to exhaustion, disrupted sleep patterns and poor decision making. The person ends up feeling trapped, and could become susceptible to depression.
So how could your organisation be contributing to your employees lack of work/ life balance?
Below are some of the key drivers behind employees working longer hours:
• Heavy workload
• Tight deadlines
• Job insecurity
• Lack of autonomy
• Boring work
• Insufficient skills for the job
• Changes to their role/ team/ organisation
• Lack of proper resources
• Lack of equipment
• Few promotional opportunities
Too much of anything can have a negative effect on you which is why so many people that work extremely long hours in their job often experience health issues, high levels of stress and have a tendency to eat a poor diet.
Therefore ensuring work life balance is practiced throughout your entire organisation will enable all of your employees to work happier, healthier and more productively.
Through our Consultancy work and our involvement in the mental health charity, MIND we understand the negative impact a poor work life balance can have on people psychologically.
It is also estimated that stress-related sick leave costs British industry £370 million every year, or approximately 91 million working days. This is half of all days lost.” [Source: The Mental Health Organisation]
Here are some basic tips for employees to establish a better work/ life balance:
•Say no. Learn to stop accepting tasks out of guilt or a false sense of obligation. This will allow you to be more effective in your role.
•Don’t take work home. The boundary between work and home is becoming blurred. Make a conscious decision to separate work time from personal time. When you’re with your family, for instance, switch off the email on your phone.
•Manage your time. Put important events outside of work in your diary and don’t change regardless of what happens at work.
•Employment options. Does your employer offer flexible working or compressed 4 day weeks? Nine out of ten UK professionals expect flexible working to be the normal form of employment in the coming years, according to HR Recruiter Ortus. The survey of 450 professional revealed that flexible working will be the preferred model of employment in the near future.
•Develop your support system. Develop a group co-workers, trusted friends and family to talk through your worries. Ask them to support you when the intensity of work becomes too much.
•Look after yourself. Try to be disciplined; eat healthily, do physical activity and make sure you get enough sleep. Where possible do activities with your partner, family or friends as this will be a release from work and bring out a different part of your personality.
Back in 1850, John Ruskin, a prominent social thinker, summed it up perfectly when he said:
“In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: they must be fit for it; they must not do too much of it; and they must have a sense of success in it”.
Outstand consults with organisations to help improve employee effectiveness. We also cover this important subject in our Personal Effectiveness and Beating Burnout Programmes, for more information please get in touch.