How Work-Life Balance Can Make You a Better Employee

April 27th, 12:43 pm

Having the perfect work-life balance is probably the most sought after self-help accomplishment one can think of. When these two separate aspects of your life are on par with each other, it gives you a sense of fulfilment which makes you both a better person and employee.

  • 66% of full-time American employees do not strongly believe they have a work-life balance.
  • 33% of American working adults work even on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays.

Let’s think of it simply as, “living while making a living”, balancing your personal and professional life. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, our daily routine has been the “9 to 5” bare minimum with a day to spare in a week. Even none for those who work the extra mile.

Admit it, you’ve had moments as if you’re a fish in a tank, exhausted, but not going anywhere. When you’re burned out, you lose your fire. When you lose that fire, it also affects how you perform as an employee.

How can a good work-life balance make you a better employee?

Work-life balance makes you whole enough to share a part of yourself.

You can’t give what you don’t have. It’s difficult to share something when you almost have nothing left. Make sense?

Work-life balance is getting yourself back together. How much of yourself have you lost because you’re overworking? On the other hand, how much have you been lacking at work because you’re too relaxed? Yes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy as the American proverb says, but too much of it is already complacency. An excess of either is no longer healthy. As Aristotle mentioned in his “Nicomachean Ethics”, “We work so we can have leisure”.

To further understand the concept of work-life balance, let’s take a step back to Eastern philosophy. Taoism believe in the dualism concept of yin and yang wherein two opposite forces are not contradictory but complementary. Night and day, black and white, sun and rain, hot and cold.

Work and life can be viewed as contrary forces but one can’t exist without the other. Therefore, instead of missing out on one, strive on creating harmony between the two.

When you don’t go way overboard in your work, your relationships, and in your leisure, you’re putting the jigsaw puzzles together to complete the whole picture which is yourself. You first have to identify the imbalance so you can correct it.

How does work-life balance help you?

  • When you feel whole and balanced, you can get more work done as an employee with ease, calmness, and eventually efficiency.
  • When you don’t have an inner battle within yourself, you won’t pick fights with other employees or the higher-ups.
  • When you’re aware of your body’s limit for work, you don’t stress yourself too much thus maintaining your sanity and keeping your mind focused at all times.
  • When you keep a healthy relationship at home and with peers, it lightens the weight on your shoulder.
Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance reduces stress and prevents burnout.

There are two types of stress: eustress and distress. Eustress is the happy stress you get from getting a surprise party or getting butterflies in your stomach before a first date. But work-related stress is an example of the opposite, distress.

With globalization and industrialization, everyone is working fast-paced and deadlines never end. More is expected of employees in order to finish as much work as possible within 8 hours. The “new normal” work-at-home setup is not an escape to the busy schedules and overwhelming job responsibilities.

  • 40% say it’s okay to respond to work emails over dinner.
  • 39% of employees constantly work beyond the standard working hours.

Being expected to still be available even after working hours lead to cortisol buildup – the stress hormone. The need to get it all done can weigh us down and lead to burnout affecting work productivity. This is slow, creeping physical and emotional exhaustion brought by a long period of work-related stress.

Expert tip: Build serendipity with your virtual team to unwind and recharge your batteries.

Burnout is the physical and mental collapse and can cause a loss of the drive for work, concentration, creative thinking, problem-solving skills and also affect interpersonal working relationships.

  • 5 out of 10 have experienced burnout caused by a lack of power and control at work, problems in social life, and heavy workload.

How does work-life balance help you?

  • Work-life balance doesn’t suggest that you detach yourself from your job responsibilities rather choose your battles. One reason why we get stressed out is not just getting it all done, but getting it all done for everyone. Know when to draw the line and de-load, so you can have time to spare for your life at home.
  • Having a life outside work regenerates you and refreshes your mind to allow more creative thoughts to flow. Even gadgets need to cool down and recharge every once in a while. Check out the anatomy of a dysfunctional team.
  • Work-life balance gives you more time for de-stressing activities – a SPA day, Netflix and chill, a few rounds with friends, playing the piano, or a good book along with a cup of coffee.

Work-life balance teaches you time management and delegation.

Boundaries between work and personal life are blurring. Having a work-life balance teaches us to allocate time for things that matter, both in our personal and professional life.

  • Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) statistics show 11% of employees from the 37 member countries work 50 hours per week or even more, with Turkey topping the list, followed by Mexico, and Colombia.
  • The top three work-balanced countries are the Netherlands, Denmark and France.
    • Netherlands: average work of 4 days/29 hours per week.
    • Denmark: minimum of 5 weeks of paid vacations.
    • France: 25 vacations annually, policy inhibiting work emails after working hours.

Although, it’s impossible to perfectly balance the scale between the two, it’s important to keep the gap close.

I’ll take myself as an example. I’ve always been guilty of spending more time at work than at home thinking it’s understandable because it’s all for the family. As a result, I’ve missed out on a lot of my kids’ milestones as they were growing, and that was very disappointing of me as a mother.

Working from home has been a blessing in disguise to make up for the kids. Although nothing much has changed with the workload, it’s now possible for me to tend to the kids while replying to emails and answering calls.

Since I have to do the laundry, prepare meals, wash the dishes, and help them out with school while working, I found a way to squeeze all my responsibilities as a mother into my busy work schedules.

With this much multitasking, I developed my time management skills. Learning how to develop myself and the team efficiently through the word day, in part thanks to the trust I have developed in them and their results.

Work-Life Balance

How does work-life balance help you?

  • With time management in mind to make the most of work and home, you plan the day ahead instead of doing things randomly.
  • As a product of time management, you learn how to create a to-do list in your head and allocate enough time for each, organizing work and effectively managing tasks. Less time is wasted.
  • Striving for work-life balance helps you set aside personal and professional life. Striving to have enough time for both, you gain control overturning the work mode on and off.
  • Personal problems are left at home and work is not brought on the dinner table. You come home feeling satisfied with your day’s work and can turn off work mode without worries. Being well-rested with enough time spent with the family, you come back to work less irritated, less pressured, and ready for another day’s work.

Work-life balance promotes physical and mental health.

The overall health of an employee should never be set aside. Poor work-life balance and the increasingly demanding work culture have huge impacts on physical and mental health. It takes a toll on the body as a product of longer working hours and countless sleepless nights.

Studies show that about 75% to 90% of human diseases are caused by too much stress, such as heart problems, asthma, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems as well as anxiety, depression, and other mental disorders. Much of the stress we get are work-related.

  • Employees working over 55 hours per week are at higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
  • They are also 1.66 times more susceptible to depression and 1.74 times to anxiety, compared to those working only 35-40 hours per week.

How does work-life balance help you?

  • Work-life balance allows you to take a step back when your body starts giving out warning signs. A healthier employee results in a better quality of work.
  • Limits are set instead of overworking at the expenses of your health. You simply learn to reserve your energy so that enough of it can be allotted for the next day. Expert Tip: Building a strong team helps you be more efficient and honest and rely on your colleagues to support you along the way.

Food for thought...

In reality, achieving a perfect work-life balance is a myth and is different for every individual. Focus not only on creating value as a worker but also as a person. Having a work-life balance makes you productive and contribute more to the overall performance of your team and ultimately to your company or organization.


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