It’s difficult in today’s fast paced and unpredictable world to find a healthy work-life balance, but it is becoming increasingly important to be conscious of it to avoid any long-term health or productivity issues.

In this technological age, where each of us checks our phones on average 50 times a day, we have instant access to communication and, through social media, can keep up-to-date with everything that occurs around the globe at a glance, at any given moment.  It’s common to check emails throughout the day and night, take work-related calls at home in the evening and work on our laptops at weekends. 

We work longer hours and spend less time fully engaged with our non-work selves, yet it is these selves that we need to nurture and look after – the time spent with our families, friends and community.  We need to recharge our batteries and form relationships outside of the workplace. 

The good news is that the workplace culture of over-working thankfully reached breaking point some time ago, and more companies are now swaying towards the idea of promoting a good work-life balance.

How’s your work-life balance? Are you happy with your home and work life demands? Do you experience conflict between your work role and your non-work roles? Are you satisfied with the number of hours you devote to your work roles and to your non-work roles? Do you have enough time to take care of you - your health, your non-work interests, and to recover from your hard work? Creating a good balance between your work life and your personal life will allow you to be more productive in both areas.

For employers, it is important to ensure that employees feel their work-life balance is being considered.  It isn’t, however, a one-size-fits-all solution as one person’s work-life balance may not benefit another.  Employers need to provide flexibility to each employee to ensure the individual needs are met.

Below are the key areas where businesses will feel the pain or benefit of a workforce with a healthy work-life balance:

Retained and happy vs resigned and unhappy

Businesses with a reputation for encouraging a work-life balance become attractive places to work.  Focussing on work-life balance will help draw and retain a valuable talent pool which will save time and money to replace employees (estimated at an average of £30,000 for each replacement employee and up to 28 weeks to get them up to speed). 

The impact of a lacking work-life balance results in sickness which will lead to high rates of absenteeism.  Employees (especially good ones) also won’t stay working for a company that is having a negative impact on their work-life balance, therefore causing high turnover.

Conversely, employees who feel looked after by their employers are more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty. 

Engaged vs Burned out

Workplaces that encourage employee wellbeing create a sustainable workforce where employees don’t become burned out.  Indeed, an engaged workforce will lead to employees going above and beyond and becoming loyal advocates for the company.

Employees who have a healthy work-life balance will have more energy, creativity and commitment.  Whereas burned-out employees are exhausted, stressed and negative. Burnout can be caused by an overwhelming workload, workplace conflict, unfairness and in almost all cases can be avoided if addressed by a competent and sympathetic manager.

According to Tower Perrin’s 2006 global survey, “Companies with high levels of employee engagement improved 19.2% in operating income while companies with low levels of employee engagement declined 32.7%.”

Efficient vs unhealthy

Given the well documented effect of stress on a person’s health, it is understandable that a poor work-life balance can lead to similar heath issues (from consistent colds and exhaustion to respiratory problems).  Having healthier employees isn’t just about encouraging a good work-life balance, or not overworking them.  Companies should hold a promote health and wellness programmes for all employees.  By encouraging people to look after themselves and find balance, will significantly limit health problems and absences which will ensure your organisation is more efficient.

Tips to improve your work-life balance:

  1. Take time off

Time off is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  Breaks are important in order to switch off and recharge, which in turn improves productivity and focus in the long term.  Make sure you use up all of your holiday allowance, even if you don’t have prescribed holidays planned.

  1. Have short breaks throughout the day

There have been many studies showing that working without a break can be detrimental to productivity and efficiency.  Taking a break from the computer and having a change of scenery for a while can make you work better throughout the day and helps allow a different perspective on things, especially when you feel bogged down with work.

  1. Disconnect

If you check your emails when you’re on the move, take work calls in the evening and often find yourself catching up on work over the weekend, have a think about how you could do things differently.  Often by setting fixed work times, you allow yourself time to switch off from work each day.  Consider removing work emails from your personal smartphone; only checking emails to and from a certain time each day.

  1. Practice what you preach

If you contact people out of office hours, you set a precedent for them to contact you back at unsociable hours.  Try to be considerate of other people’s weekends, bank holidays, evenings etc and they will repay the compliment.

  1. Give yourself more you time

Dedication to your job is one thing but sacrifice is another.  Be careful of sacrificing too much of your non-work self for your career.  The more you give yourself ‘you’ time, the healthier your mind becomes and the more productive and efficient you can be at work – this may get you noticed more than how many hours you work each week.

  1. Notice the signs

Listen to your body and act accordingly.  If you’re feeling tired, make sure you get some early nights.  If you feel ill, then take a sick day.  Your body will tell you when something is wrong and ignoring it will only make it much worse. 

  1. Exercise and meditate

Exercise is a proven stress reliever, pumping feel-good endorphins around your body.  Meditation also helps by relieving stress and reducing blood pressure.  It’s important to make time for self-care each day.

For more on this or to find out how we can further support your business contact us

SmartPA Partner Charlotte Frank

Charlotte had supported executives in London as a Personal Assistant for 17 years prior to moving into project management within a global investment bank. Charlotte's key skills lie in core administrative duties as well as event management, project management, research, data analysis and the creation of presentations.