One of the buzz words heard a lot around offices these days is “work-life balance”. In many ways it is more important today than ever before. The economic situation of today means that people have to put in more hours, work harder, for less pay then before it all went downhill. The pressure is on. The days when you just changed jobs whenever your current position felt boring or when you wanted a significant salary increase are no longer there for most. Today, if you have a decent job, you stick with it. You deal with the pressure and pray that you still have a job in the foreseeable future. People worry about paying their bills, their mortgage/rent and they worry about the future for their families.
New problems arise. People feel pushed. There is always more to do, more hours to put in, tighter deadlines to adhere to. Burn-out becomes a reality.
A burned-out employee is not something anyone wants. It is costly, cause’s performance issues and any decent employer realises that the health implications which this brings should be avoided for everyone’s sake.
Hence the buzz around work-life balance.
What is important to remember is that WLB is not just something that can be thrown out there as a concept. It requires action. Both from the employer as well as the employee. The employer must enable a work-life balance by realizing that changes must happen internally. Listening to the employees is important. Let them vent all these things that are frustrating them. Let them do so in an environment where they can feel safe to do so without fear of any retribution. Then ensure that all together can look into what actions realistically can be taken. What is possible to change and how to do so.
Employees also carry part of the responsibility towards their own WLB. Just moaning about things helps no-one. You need to actively engage with peers and management to see what challengers are there, what can be done differently and what can be solved. Sometimes the ball has to be dropped. Sometimes you have to realize that you cannot be everywhere or do everything. If you do not set the right expectations and actually say “NO” then nothing will change. No-one will force you off that laptop. No-one will magically source additional people to help you. BUT you have to be able to rely on that your points are taken seriously by your management team. That the concerns are understood and that there is a real desire to address change.
If this does not happen from both sides then WLB will just continue to be a buzz word with no real change happening at all. It will just turn into a joke.
For me this is an on-going issue. I am still trying to find a balance. Sometimes WLB is hard. It can be really hard to achieve. One step at a time… and hopefullyI will be able to catch my breath sooner rather than later.