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Fostering a Work-Life Balance
Submitted by the USPS Employee Assistance Program
Work plays a large role in our lives. It ensures we have food on the table and a roof over our head. Today’s work is fast paced and, with the ever-increasing amount of technology available, being permanently connected to the office is becoming easier and easier.
For these reasons, achieving a work-life balance has become a challenge for most workers. In the past, it was more difficult to take work home. Now, with smartphones, personal and professional lines are blurred. Many workplaces create a culture of pressure to spend more time at work and have the attitude of “first in-last out of the office.”
According to several recent studies, approximately half of all employed people feel they are facing overwork issues. Achieving the “American dream” often means over-working in order to reach goals. People love the idea of hard work and determination in order to create success. On the surface, this seems like a positive idea. But, in reality, what effect does working long hours have on our daily lives?
One person might believe they have achieved balance when they can leave work early enough to eat dinner with their family. Someone else might view it as having a flexible schedule so they can study for a part-time graduate degree. Yet another person might feel fulfilled by spending their “free” time advancing their career by working longer.
In short, you achieve a balance when you have enough time to pursue both work and personal interests you like. However, when you feel as if one side of your life is using up too much of your energy, you can become stressed, your productivity can fall and your personal relationships can become strained.
Developing that perfect balance between our jobs and family always has been a challenge. Work-life bal-ance can be defined as the proper prioritizing between “work” (one’s career and ambition) and “life” (one’s health, family and leisure). Working late occasionally to finish a project or deal with an emergency is understandable. However, routinely working late at the office or at home—chronic overworking—will take a toll on a person’s life.
Research has shown that if you are spending most of your time working, you can suffer serious consequences with your health, family and friends. Ultimately, your effectiveness in the workplace may decline. Let’s take a closer look at the effects of overworking:
Work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. Employees who have a work-life balance tend to feel more motivated and less stressed out at work. This increases employee productivity and reduces the number of conflicts in the work environment. Maintaining a work-life balance helps prevent our personal lives from suffering.
It’s important to remember that a work-life balance means something different to everyone. For some, the balance often includes regular vacation time and weekends away from the job. Others may want flexible hours and the ability to work from home. Work-life balance is in reach, but the challenge is making a conscious effort to achieve it.
Here are some tips to get you started maintaining a work-life balance:
The strongest predictor of happiness is work-life balance, according to the 2017 World Happiness Report. Most of us will spend a large percentage of our time at work. If we let it, work can take over and create stress in all aspects of our lives.
It is essential to find the right balance and implement it in the workplace. This will allow you to switch off from work and give you a healthy and more satisfying personal life.
The long-term value in encouraging and embracing a balance between work and home life is highly beneficial. The push to focus on this fundamentally is for an employee to be happy, productive and engaged.
Work-life balance supports physical, emotional, family and community health.
It’s important for all of us to gain self-awareness regarding our own personalities and tendencies, as some people are more prone to imbalances than others. It may be challenging at first to unplug or not send that email. Remind yourself that not having a balance will put your health at risk and potentially impact your loved ones’ time with you.
Once you start to gain balance, you will feel less overwhelmed in life. So, start today with getting your balance back.
Today, work-life balance is about achieving the mix of business and personal life that’s right for you. We all are unique; the term “personal life” means something different to everyone. It can include spending time with your friends and family, resting or participating in hobbies. Also, engaging in personal, spiritual or educational development, exercising or caregiving. It even can include your work!
Following the ideas presented in this article is a good start to promoting a healthy work-life balance. If you find yourself struggling with your balance, your Employee Assistance Program is here to help. For more information, visit EAP4YOU.com or contact your EAP at 800-327-4968 (800-EAP-4YOU); TTY: 877-493-734.