Achieving a work-life balance
The phrase ‘work-life balance’ is used in everyday conversation across the world. For many, finding the right balance is the ultimate achievement and perceived to be the root of happiness. But, what exactly is work-life balance and how do we achieve it?
What is work-life balance?
Work life balance means something different to everyone and can alter for an individual throughout different periods in their life. However, it can be generally defined as “satisfaction and good functioning at work and at home, with a minimum of role conflict” (Clark, 2000). The balance can be visualised as a set of scales. When the scales are weighted too heavily on one side, it is to the detriment of the other.
What happens when the scales are tipped?
If there is an imbalance between the commitments we give to work and the time dedicated to our social lives, the psychological strain can negatively impact our physical and mental health. There is compelling evidence that an imbalance significantly affects quality of family life and career attainment for all individuals (Eludinni, 2016). The negative consequences we endure as a result of imbalance are therefore not sustainable.
It is essential that we are able to recognise individual triggers and understand when we are pushing too far in a particular direction. Examples of imbalance may include: experiencing severe levels of stress, mental health issues, physical exhaustion, substance abuse and disengagement. The majority of individuals who suffer from work-life disparity perceive the cause of the problem to be lack of time. We are all familiar with the phrase ‘there simply aren’t enough hours in the day’. However, if we try to manage our responsibilities more realistically and reassess the goals we set for our days, we are more likely to experience feelings of accomplishment.
How do we achieve work-life balance?
Once we are able to recognise individual triggers, we will be able to work towards achieving balance. Individuals are advised to prioritise particular tasks both within the working and personal spheres. Setting achievable goals and organising tasks realistically will set aside time for the individual to ‘switch off’ from everyday life pressures.
In addition, employers are a key component in assisting individuals to balance the scales. In a recent survey, nearly 66% of respondents said that being able to work flexibly without this impeding career development, including management that support working flexibility, is of most importance within a profession (Brooks, 2015). Support from employers to work flexibility is vital to ensure individuals can fulfil other commitments, for example parenting, caring for those less able or simply working from home to collect a delivery. A happy workforce results in increased productivity, therefore flexible working is not just in the individual’s best interests.
Recognising the increasing importance of work-life balance
Evidence suggests that the millennial generation is actively promoting the work-life balance even more than its predecessors. By way of example, a recent study by Accounting Today of the working millennial generation concluded that work-life balance was ranked most important in terms of career priorities. It is unsurprising therefore that the modern working industry is pursuing such balance. Millennials are able to capitalise on technological developments to ensure that work no longer needs to be at a specific location, instead, technology allows work to “shift from place to space” (Jenkins, 2018), wherever that individual may be.
Cripps actively recognises the importance of helping it’s people with their work and home life by considering a variety of flexible working arrangements that enable them to balance their work with other priorities; whilst also ensuring the needs of the business can continue to be met. The firm understands that flexible working is not a one size fits all and not every role will be suitable for every type of flexibility. Cripps works with individuals to explore opportunities for flexible working where possible.
Perhaps we should follow Oprah Winfrey’s lead in learning that “you can’t have everything and do everything at the same time”.