A poor work-life-balance is bad – both for employees and employers

Employee Experience

Talking about work-life balance is easy – but finding that balance in real life is challenging. At the same time, a functioning work-life-balance is enormously important. Not having a balance between work and private life makes people feel more stressed both at work and outside of work. People with a misbalance between work and private life also experience more family conflicts, have more problems in personal relationships, and more physical and mental health problems. At work, engagement, creativity and productivity decreases and turnover increases. Obviously, such a misbalance is bad, both for employees and employers.

So, how good (or bad) are we actually at balancing our work and private life? When analyzing Brilliant’s data base, I found some interesting results:

  • Overall, 28% say they have a good balance between work and their spare time. But let’s have a look at the other side of that: 72% are not entirely happy with their work-life-balance. That is a lot – especially when we consider the negative consequences of such a misbalance (see above).
  • Women seem to have a slightly better work-life-balance then men (29% of women and 26% of men say they have a good balance).  I think this might be because more women than men working part time but also because women have a larger social network outside of work while men have more of their network at work. Also, women have other jobs than men (for example, fewer women are managers).  But it could also be that women respond differently to the question than men.
  • One stereotype of managers is that they have a bad work-life balance. Unfortunately, it seems to be true (23% of managers feel they have a good balance, compared to 28% of non-managers). This is perhaps not surprising – but nonetheless worrying, given that the negative consequences of a misbalance affect everyone, independent of which function they have.
  • Those who have a good work-life-balance are also more engaged at work – for example, they have more energy and more fun at work. So a good life outside of work is beneficial for employee engagement.

All this suggests that the balance between work and private life needs to be improved. But how can we make this happen? And: whose responsibility is it?

A quick answer is perhaps: “It’s the employees who are responsible for their private life and, hence, also for a balance between their work and private life.” But it is clearly also a key management responsibility to establish preconditions for a functioning work-life-balance. For example, management can create flexibility regarding working hours and the place of work; restrict the amount of working hours; create a culture that promotes work-life-balance, for example by holding back on work after normal working hours or on the weekend.

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