By Katie Jones, Accountant at A4
Our 'work' life and 'private' lives have always been interwoven, but as you may know, conflicts can occur and the boundaries between these two lives can become blurred. Although we can separate these two lives in terms of time and location, our behaviour, emotions, attitudes and values can blur the boundaries which can have positive or negative consequences. Tension can occur when trying to create a balance and it has been suggested we are always immersed in both lives simultaneously. It was found by Rudman (2010) that the traditional ideas of work and life and their relationship have changed which has brought new pressures on people and now we are looking for a better balance. The traditional family model (an income earner and a homemaker) is outdated, along with the idea of working a five day, 40-hour week.
A healthy balance is the result of being able to effectively prioritise between work and other areas of life. Balance is achieved when work doesn't substitute other areas of life and vice versa. Many industries have experienced increased work intensity as a result of technological advancements and growing competitive pressures. This can leave people feeling there aren't enough hours in the day to complete their workload.
The evolution of technology such as laptops, mobile phones and other communication devices has allowed workers to be 'connected' to work 24/7. These changes have been important to business as they have increased the speed of communication and efficiency. On the flip side, the increased speed has created a perception that everything is urgent. The traits of a poor work life balance include people feeling overwhelmed, like they don't have enough time to complete tasks and therefore work longer hours. The outcomes not only affect the employee but also the employer and work colleagues. A poor work life balance can cause people to make mistakes and reduce the productivity but the greatest risk is burnout or mental and physical exhaustion.
Strategies can be implemented by both the employee and employer and these will create benefits for both parties. Employees can build down time into their schedules to include family time, hobbies and exercise. The relaxation that comes from these activities can help to 'recharge the batteries' and take the mind off work. Delegation can be used to gain control of time along with learning to say 'no' to certain tasks. Turning off alerts can be beneficial to ensure focus and concentration can be achieved. Employers can ensure the culture supports a healthy work life balance along with including flexible hours if required. Creating a supportive working environment, implementing policies to distribute the workload evenly and monitoring employees will show the business values the employees work life balance. Lastly, a survey could be performed to gain more information in regard to employees' feelings in relation to their work life balance.