Work Life Balance

  • Occupational Health
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

In this guide, we'll discuss work life balance, what a poor work life balance looks like, and how to promote mental wellbeing.

It's important for staff to take time away from the workplace, whether it be to develop their personal relationships or hobbies. Ultimately, a healthy work life balance is important for your employees' physical and mental health.

Without a work life balance, you and your staff could face negative consequences. For example, they might end up working long hours, which could increase their stress levels and lead them to feel overwhelmed. As a result, your employees might look for a new job that supports their overall wellbeing.

In this guide, we'll discuss work life balance, what a poor work life balance looks like, and how to promote mental wellbeing.

What is work life balance?

Work life balance is the idea of pursuing a healthy balance between personal and professional activities. To maintain this, individuals must actively manage their time and energy when approaching these commitments.

For example, they might wish to set clear boundaries between work and their personal life, which they could achieve by not working longer hours. Or setting aside quality time to spend with friends and family.

As an employer, it's important for you to promote a healthy work life balance in your business. If your employees don't separate work from their personal lives, it could negatively affect their overall wellbeing. And ultimately have adverse effects on your business's efficiency.

Why is work life balance important?

Work life balance is important for several reasons. The main one is that we all need sufficient time away from work to rest and practice self-care, as well as to spend personal time with family and friends.

Without this balance, many could fail to develop healthy relationships, or manage their personal tasks and life admin. Not to mention, if staff focus on work more than their personal lives, it could increase their workplace stress.

What are the factors in a good work life balance?

A good work life balance includes a number of factors. But most notably, it means avoiding long hours in the workplace and prioritising mental health. Other factors include:

Setting boundaries

One factor that helps create a healthy work life balance is setting boundaries. This involves drawing a line between personal and professional life.

For example, you could implement this by ensuring your staff clock off on time, and encouraging employees not to check emails outside of work. Of course, some scenarios will require overtime, but it's important this doesn’t breach the law on maximum hours worked per week.

Time management

Another factor that helps uphold a healthier work life balance is strong time management skills. Time management is the practice of dedicating the necessary amount of time to tasks. 

For example, you might wish to use task management software so staff are clear on what duties they need to perform, and when they need to perform them. Moreover, you should ensure they're given enough notice on each task, this can help avoid unreasonable deadlines being set.

Stress management

Another important factor that affects work life balance is stress management. Stress management is important, mainly because it can help staff during times when their career demands more of them.

As an employer, you should encourage staff to take up outlets that reduce stress. For example, you could offer a free gym membership to staff to help positively impact their mental health. But, ensure you don't demand too much of your employees, as you could create unmanageable levels of stress.

What causes an unhealthy work life balance?

There are several causes of an unhealthy work life balance, such as excessive pressure from senior managers. Other causes include:

Unmanageable workloads and deadlines

One cause of an unhealthy balance between work and home life is unmanageable workloads and deadlines. If employees feel like they can't complete their work tasks during their work hours, they might spend time out of office finishing them.

For example, if you were to frequently set staff members short deadlines with no notice, they might work longer each day to finish the task. As a result, they could end up spending an unequal amount of time at work.

Poor company culture

Another cause of unhealthy work life integration is poor company culture. If you don't reward hard work and put too much emphasis on performing - it might set unrealistic expectations for staff.

Moreover, if your senior managers frequently work longer than necessary, it might encourage employees to do the same. Consequently, causing an unhealthy work life balance.

Inflexible work hours

Staff might also struggle to spend equal time between work and home if they work rigid, inflexible hours. Obviously, some roles require set hours, but if you can provide flexibility for your employees, they could benefit greatly.

For example, if you employ parents, not being able to work flexibly might impact their ability to meet their out-of-work commitments and the needs of their children. Because they are unable to spend as much time with their children, such as not being able to drop them off at school in the morning.

What are the impacts of poor work life balance?

There are several impacts your staff could encounter if their work life balance is poor. For example, your employees might have low engagement levels - which could affect your business as a whole.

Let's take a look at some other impacts of poor work life integration.

Poor employee wellbeing

One impact of having a poor work life balance is that it could negatively affect your employees' wellbeing. Because working outside of business hours might blur the line between their personal and professional lives.

For example, they might find themselves checking their emails at the dinner table, or missing important life events because of work. As a result, this could damage their personal relationships and impact their mental health negatively.

High staff turnover

One negative effect poor work life balance can have on your business is a high staff turnover. If your business doesn't promote a healthy work life integration, employees will likely be unhappy at work and home.

For example, if your staff work hours outside of their working week, they might grow tired of their workload and the pressure that comes with it. Consequently, it might encourage them to look for a role elsewhere.

Low workplace productivity

An unhealthy work life balance can also impact productivity levels in your workplace. Staff may grow resentful of your business, because they're unable to dedicate the same amount of time they spend working on their personal lives.

For example, working too much might cause employees to miss important life events. And as their employer, they might blame you for failing to provide a manageable workload. This can cause them to withdraw from the workplace and only do the bare minimum. Consequently, productivity levels will decrease.

What are the benefits of a healthy work life balance?

You and your employees can experience plenty of benefits when implementing a healthier work life balance. For instance, staff will probably have more focus and energy when attending work.

Let's explore some other benefits.

Increased job satisfaction

One benefit of promoting a healthy work life balance is that your employees' job satisfaction might increase. This is because they'll be able to spend time away from the workplace without being overwhelmed by their workload.

As a result, they'll likely have a better perception of you as their employer, and be more satisfied in their role. This can benefit your business's productivity as well, because time away from the workplace will allow employees to refresh. Consequently, they'll have more focus when at work.

Reduced stress

Another benefit of promoting a good work life integration is that it could reduce stress in your employees. A healthy amount of stress can be motivating, but unmanageable levels can cause staff burnout.

A healthy balance between work and their personal life will likely mean employees have a reasonable workload. And with a manageable set of responsibilities, staff won't feel overwhelmed by their duties or deadlines. As a result, this might decrease stress levels in your workplace.

High employee retention

Ensuring your staff have a healthy work life balance could increase your retention rates. High employee retention is ideal in any business. Not only does it save money on recruiting fees, but your workforce will have a better grip on your business objectives and operation.

A good balance at work and home means employees will likely have a manageable workload. Moreover, they'll have a sufficient amount of personal time to spend how they like. With this in mind, they won't be in a hurry to look for a role elsewhere, because you provide a workplace that supports their mental health.

Ways to improve work life balance

There are several ways you can improve your employees' work life balance. If your current situation isn't promoting a better work life integration, you should take action to improve it. This might include:

Prioritising wellbeing

One way you can improve work life balance is by prioritising employee wellbeing. In the long run, encouraging staff to prioritise their mental health will help them set boundaries at work and home. One way you could do this is by encouraging staff to pursue personal activities.

For example, you could offer cinema and restaurant vouchers each month, so employees can spend time doing things they enjoy with friends and family. You could also provide information about self care and wellbeing from a mental health foundation or charity.

Implementing flexible working hours

Another way you could provide a better work life balance is by implementing flexible working hours. Many companies have introduced flexible hours or remote work over the last few years, especially if they employ parents or carers.

Not all industries will be able to provide flexible work, or introduce working remotely. But it can be beneficial if an employee's work can be done at home, as it gives them a better sense of control over their lives. And they won't need to stress about managing their personal life around work.

Regularly reviewing workloads

You could also provide a better balance between employees' work and personal life by regularly reviewing workloads. If staff have unmanageable workloads, they'll spend more time working than at home. As a result, it could lead them to have a poor work life balance and burnout.

This is why you should review your staff workload every working week. For example, you could check in with senior managers and check they’re delegating tasks fairly. Or catch up with employees one-on-one to check how they feel about their work.

Get expert advice on work life balance from Peninsula

You should promote a healthy work life balance for your employees. This means promoting their overall wellbeing, as well as encouraging them to spend equal time between work and their home life.

Failure to do so could have adverse effects on your staff, and ultimately your business. For instance, if staff can't find a balance between work and their personal lives, they might look for another job that encourages this. As a result, your company might have a higher staff turnover.

Peninsula offers expert advice on work life balance. Our teams provide 24/7 Health & Safety advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our Health & Safety experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with a Health & Safety consultant today.



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