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What’s the big deal?
Employees face demands on their time from work and life requirements. If they are unable to balance the requirements well and successfully, it could mean an unhealthy life or unemployment. Work-life balance has become an important topic of study and discussion because of its impact on public health and business results, but is still poorly monitored and undervalued.
Business results are affected because stressed employees are poor performers and unhealthy life choices lead to greater incidence of sickness absences. The Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) states the psychological stress an office worker experiences is 20%. This stress doesn’t just lead to sicknesses but to mistakes, poor choices and poor customer relations.
Public health is affected as high-pressure work demands can lead to stress-related illnesses. The situation is aggravated because work can affect the way one lives, and unhealthy life choices are all too common. The call for mental health appreciation, acknowledgement and care has grown over the recent years, however many businesses are still not walking the talk. This is due to many reasons, but the more people on every level are educated, the more demand for compliance, the more upper management will execute a higher regard and follow through on procedures in the public and private arena.
Effects and results
A healthy life requires attention to important areas of life such as; family, children, friends and hobbies/health activities. High-pressure work situations and time spent on travelling to and from can eat into the time available for workers to attend to these areas of life. As a result, we are seeing such things as; strains on relationships and the rise of health problems and addictions.
Job security also suffers with changing trends in industry. Information technology, competitive pressures and unrealistic expectations have led to the practical disappearance of the earlier phenomenon of lifetime employment with one employer.
Employees are continually now looking for better opportunities while employers tend to be seeking ways to reduce costs by replacing employees, particularly in countries where labour comes at a high price. Frequent job changes are becoming common which costs business a great deal of money. Some jobs are seen to be re-located, which add to the stress and pressures faced by employees, with the customer often losing out.
Add to these the stress of constant technological changes and the need to learn new things, and the five generations now present in the workplace, no wonder people are feeling stressed. Rise in workplace violence, increase in levels of absenteeism and rising trend of compensation claims have made employers keenly aware of the need to attend more to the work-life balance of their employees.
Achieving Better Work Life Balance
It’s no wonder that employees are looking to work with businesses that offer “best practices”, strong “work ethics, values and culture”
Remedial measures need to focus on certain key areas:
- Personal training for employees to focus their attention on the important things for a healthy life and enriching relationships.
- Professional training through training programs on topics like; management training, time management, conflict management, workforce scheduling, stress management, and accountability and adaptability.
- Employers allowing for flexible working hours, and the setting of realistic goals.
Studies have indicated that by allowing some degree of control for employees to choose when, where and how they work, employers benefits in more ways than though possible. Benefits were not only in productivity thus profitability, but also future possible employees were hunting them down enabling businesses to grow and become trustworthy in the public eye.
Achieving better work life balance requires both employee training and employer orientation changes and contributions. Remember; the right sorts of diamonds are made under the right sort of pressure/conditions.