Often it seems as if our work takes priority over everything else. Personal wants and needs get pushed to the side because of the responsibility and pressure that comes with being a hardworking professional. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and exhausted, and yet still feel the responsibility to overachieve in our careers.
Creating and sustaining a work-life balance can feel impossible – but in all reality, it’s quite attainable. In this article, we break down the right way to harmonize your personal and professional aspirations.
Too Much Pressure At Work?
It’s very common to feel like you have to separate work and life to be successful in your career, but is that fair? More importantly, is it sustainable and healthy? Well, it’s not.
Choosing to ignore the real things going on in your life because companies have expectations is a dangerous pattern to normalize. Society has allowed companies to create a workplace culture that makes employees feel like work must come first, and everything else needs to be secondary. In reality, when your mental health is in jeopardy, you can’t perform your best.
There is a solution that is grounded in data and neuroscience. Flexible workplaces are the new eight-to-five, and “employee experience” is the new “employee engagement.” Progressive (and, in our opinion, smart) companies are taking a holistic approach to employment arrangements – allowing employees to work a flexible schedule that supports the many demands of life: health challenges, caring for aging parents or school-aged children, or even those adventurous jet-setters who want to travel the world on their off-work time. These companies choose to focus on the outcome of the work – what gets done, not how it gets done. What the data tells us is that employees who work for these companies are more engaged, more innovative and less likely to leave. Studies also suggest that these companies have happier customers, faster growth and more favorable financials.
Is Working From Home a Blessing or a Curse?
Post-pandemic, more people than ever work from home or have the option of a hybrid work schedule. While this may seem like a major benefit to work-life balance, we have to consider the many consequences of working from home.
Before remote work became the standard, most of the workforce would be able to have a clear separation of work and home responsibilities. People left deadlines, emails and so on at their desks; at the end of the work day, work could be left at work.
Now, the advanced technologies that accompany remote work (hello, Slack) have blurred the lines that once kept professional and personal life apart. Employees often feel as though a few extra minutes to wrap up a project or summarize reporting doesn’t impact our personal lives – but it easily can and does. Working from home means no commute. It also, technically, gives you a little extra time to finish everything you need to. This is great news for companies looking to increase productivity, but bad news if it leaves employees feeling an extra burden when they need to be present at home.
Ways To Cope
There are countless ways to help deal with the stresses of this ongoing need for balance. Here are some tips to consider.
Set Healthy Boundaries
A key component to creating a healthy work-life balance is boundaries. Whether it’s shutting off all work notifications when you leave the workplace (a.k.a. the guest bedroom or dining room table) or simply talking to your supervisor about how you’re feeling, it’s critical to communicate those needs. On your calendar, book mid-morning and afternoon walks or a lunch break. Inform your team of your consistent work schedule and where you like flexibility. For example, set 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. as your standard work hours, and let the team know to check your calendar for availability before or after those hours. Establish a morning “start time” and evening “hard-stop time” where you will be offline, and communicate that to your supervisor and colleagues. While your cell phone is always in hand and your computer is nearby, it does not mean it is healthy for you to be available 24/7.
Utilize Your PTO
Don’t feel guilty about taking the time you need and utilizing paid time off (PTO). This is a great way to disconnect from work and recharge. Today’s work culture puts us at high risk of burnout and this can easily trickle into our personal lives. Avoid this by making sure you take time to go on a vacation or spend time with family and friends. When you are on vacation, it’s best advised to truly disconnect. Resist the temptation to respond to that email or text… it can wait until you return to work!
Don’t Be Afraid To Find A New Job
If you’re constantly experiencing burnout, disrespected boundaries or unhealthy relationships at work, it may be time to look for another gig. This is normal in any professional career. We experience the “honeymoon phase” when starting a new role, but this can quickly fade and become detrimental to your mental and physical health if you work at a company not aligned with your personal values.
Sometimes an employer’s values just don’t align with yours – and that’s okay. If you realize your current company is no longer serving you, it may be time to find a different role with an employer that’s better matched to your needs and values. In the end, always know your worth. Never be afraid to set (and keep) boundaries, utilize your PTO and take each day at a time.
Our Society Is Changing for the Better
The last few years have completely changed the way people see, think and work. Businesses across the globe are realizing the need to prioritize the mental and physical health of their employees and adapt to a more flexible work environment. With this mind shift, work-life balance is becoming easier to obtain because companies are joining the conversation.
It’s time to reimagine employee performance management to promote a culture of work-life balance. BPM Link can help align your team and goals to the strategic direction of your organization. Contact us today!