The work life balance is a notion that supports the efforts of employees to divide their time and energy between work and other important aspects of their lives. The work life balance is a daily endeavour to ensure there is time for family, friends, self care, personal growth, community involvement, spirituality, and various other personal activities, in addition to the demands of the individual’s workplace. The work life balance is supported by employers who introduce policies, procedures, and expectations that permit employees to effortlessly pursue a more balanced lifestyle.
In the quest to adopt a work life balance individuals will notice a drastic reduction in lifestyle stress. When any individual spends the majority of their days on work related activities they indubitably feel the abandonment of other important aspects of their lives thereby resulting in stress and discontent. Adopting a work life balance provides an individual with the satisfaction that they are attending to all important aspects of their lives. As many employees experience a personal, professional, and financial requirement to achieve, attaining the work life balance can be awfully demanding. Employers can assist employees in attaining a work life balance by offering certain opportunities such as flexible work hours, paid leave entitlements, reasonable time constraints and communication expectations, and occasional company subsidised family activities.
The actions of employers and managers are significant to employees seeking a work life balance. Employers and managers that practise a work life balance within their own lifestyle, actually model suitable behaviour and in turn support employees in their quest to attain a work life balance. These employers and managers create a working environment in which a work life balance is enabled, expected, and supported. These business and industry leaders retain exceptional employees to whom work life balance is paramount and thereby providing a productive and harmonious workplace.
Lifestyle blog posts and health articles on work life balance are plentiful, discovering an individual’s balance between professional activities and home life is basically a personal issue. What may work for one individual may not work for another, and one individual’s perception of success may not be right for you. This post is designed to help you consider your true values in life and find the path that works for you. We all have only one life, no one gets a work life and a home life, so do not expect to separate the two. The best you can hope to achieve is one life that is somewhat balanced at any given time between opposing needs and desires. What one individual considers to be successful may not be suitable for you, what is suitable for you is what is consistent with your priorities and values, try not to get caught up in other individual’s objectives.
Both men and women in academics tend to be highly motivated, and the same thing that drives them to achieve excellence academically makes them want to achieve excellence in other areas of their life. Striving to achieve excellence in everything is just impracticable, it is better to focus on doing the best you can with what you have, while recognising that perfection in all things, all the time, is unattainable.
Keep in mind that many work life articles assume a very narrow version of accomplishment, basically equating lifestyle success with moving up the career ladder, and that your idea of achievement may differ. If you believe your objective is to stay on the career fast track, and you have or are planning to have children, here are some work life balance suggestions to consider:
The most successful outcome is when mothers take parental leave following childbirth for either a few weeks or a few months and then returns to the workforce full time. As professional advancement is severely affected by extended time outside of the workforce, for many individuals, dropping out or dropping down to a part time position can mean permanent demotion to a second tier arrangement. Think very carefully before accepting a part time position, if you are choosing to go part time then negotiate a way to remain invaluable and productive despite the part time status. There is certainly a long term career cost when reducing your hours, even if the loss of income is tolerable. Make sure you understand that leaving the workforce may be a long term solution to a short term problem, such as childcare, with heavy career consequences in the future.
Almost all successful career orientated mothers praise their partner as a significant means to success. Partners who are supportive of career goals and active in contributing to household responsibilities are the key element for professional advancement for both men and women. Without a supportive partner, most mothers will feel it is near impossible to continue to achieve the fast track career. Although it has most certainly been accomplished, it will require building a strong outside support network. An outside network consisting of a supportive group of close friends especially women who have already achieved success are often important ingredients for accomplishment. Many successful women also portray a strong outside support network as often including one or more mentors.
Time management skills top the list of interpretations for success. The ability to multi task is fundamental, as is the flexibility for work obligations. The industrial revolution is extremely helpful, as smart phones, iPads, and tablets make personal time management more manageable. If need be, negotiate a flexible schedule ensuring to keep the quantity and quality of your work output high, but think creatively about when and where your work is to be completed. Critics of this approach argue that the reduced face to face time takes undue advantage of the employer, is unjust to fellow employees who are asked to cover for the missing mother, and makes it more difficult for other women to professionally advance as it cultivates the belief that women are just not physically present as much as men. These critics believe that women should not request special privileges and that doing so erodes the position for all women in the workforce.
Understand that the demands of parenthood have escalated, young children have numerous activities many of which require a parental chauffeur or participant, and school age children consistently receive extensive homework that requires parental supervision and participation. Acknowledge that not every extracurricular activity needs to become part of the family agenda, just like adults, children really need to learn to say no. Occasionally other adults can be called upon to fulfil the role of a parent, as when an aunt or uncle, grandparent, neighbour or babysitter steps in. Sometimes you may feel that you just have to be there yourself, such as when your child is ill, and therefore professional obligations will often need to be altered. Focus your energy where it is required the most, do not allow yourself to feel guilty for saying no to requests that are not a priority. Step back and focus on the big picture, clarify your own priorities and values, and then reach out to others for advice and help in rebalancing your lifestyle.
In our haste to get it all done at the office and at home, it is easy to forget that as our stress level soars, our productivity level plunges. Stress can blast our concentration, render us irritable or depressed, and damage our personal and professional relationships. Over time, stress also diminishes our immune system and renders us prone to a plethora of illnesses from common colds to heart disease. Recent research indicates that chronic stress can actually double our risk of experiencing a heart attack. Not only is the stress reducing healthy work life balance an achievable goal, but workers and businesses alike will reap the rewards of increased productivity and harmonious working conditions.