We've all heard of "work-life balance," and it has often been taken out of context or it has been promoted as a sell feature of a job or an organization.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, work-life balance is "the amount of time you spend doing your job compared to the amount of time you spend with your family and doing things you enjoy."
There has been resounding evidence over the years by various studies that working long hours and taking work home regularly can be harmful to both employers and employees yet we find ourselves in denial and making excuses for our actions, and I am guilty as charged. We often describe our jobs as demanding, exhausting, and chaotic with the belief the long hours and imbalance was required for professional success. But is this even true or necessary?
We work in a busy, bustling industry. These days, finding a work-life balance can seem like an impossible feat. I've been on the consulting side of the industry, and I know it often requires working long hours-early mornings, late nights, last minute, and the infamous end of day deadlines. I'm convinced it is something that gets indoctrinated during our academic years and continues well into our professional careers.
Industry experts note a proper work-life balance promotes a healthy work environment, helps reduce chronic stress, and prevents burn-out. Chronic stress is known to be one of the most common workplace related health issues. It can lead to both physical and mental consequences such as hypertension, digestive troubles, aches and pains, cardiac issues, and lead to things such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Burnout can trigger the stress, but to an organization, it can and will lead to low productivity, increased absenteeism, lack of interest, and eventually the loss of an excellent, hardworking, and caring employee.
I'm very much reminded of a blog post written by EllisDon's president and chief executive, Geoff Smith where he posted some advice from his father, Don Smith Sr. His third point resonates the most: "Do not take your work home with you. Worrying about work at home can never help or change anything, besides you don't get paid to worry."
Balancing our professional and personal lives can be challenging, but it is essential to our individual and collective successes. As the adage goes "it takes two to tango" and work-life balance can only work when the employer and employee honestly promote, accept, understand, and implement work-life balance.
As the holiday season is approaching, it is a good time to reflect on many things including our work-life balance and to prioritize our health and well-being. As Stephen Covey says, "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities."
Yours in service. I am CSC.