Work-life balance

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

(Last updated )

It’s important for your employees to have a good work-life balance; it ensures they work to their full potential and don’t burnout. Read our guide on how to achieve this.

No matter what industry an individual works in, everyone needs a break from the working week. Specifically to rest, reflect, and spend quality time with friends and family.

As an employer, you must encourage staff members to have a better work life balance. Not only is a balanced life necessary for wellbeing and morale, but it can also increase business productivity.

Without it, your business could suffer high employee turnover and burn out. Not to mention the damaging effects on an employee's physical and mental health.

In this guide, we'll discuss poor work life integration, the negative effects, and ways of achieving work life balance.

What is a work life balance?

A work life balance is a healthy balance between your personal life and your work life. It prioritises the demands of your personal and professional lives equally. Whilst encouraging you to take care of personal health and wellbeing.

A good work life balance looks different to everyone. This is because your personal needs naturally change over time. For example, a university graduate may have less commitments to juggle than a single parent. And would therefore have different priorities.

Ultimately, the demands of work should not negatively affect, or hinder, an employee's personal life and wellbeing.

What causes a poor work life balance?

There are several reasons why workers may have an unhealthy work life balance, and it's important you're aware of them.

These reasons include:

  • Poor or uncaring employers. For example, employers that expect staff to prioritise work hours over their personal time.
  • Employers who are inflexible with working hours and time off. This includes employees working long hours.
  • Working more than their set hours. For example, an employee not having enough time to complete their tasks because the workplace is understaffed.

Having an unhealthy work life balance can lead employees to feel overwhelmed. And can have negative impacts at home and at work.

The impacts of an unhealthy work life balance

An employee with a poor work life balance may have little spare time for themselves or others. And solely focus on the responsibilities of their job. This can have several negative effects.

Let’s explore these.

Employee stress

Employees with an unhealthy work life balance may have poor mental wellbeing, and could feel stress at work. For example, an employer may expect a worker to finish several tasks in one day. Even if it means them working long hours.

This could lead to stress, as the employee may be scared of not completing their tasks during working hours - knowing they'll have to stay later.

They could also be worried about the repercussions from their employer if they don't stay late. As well as the damage it could have on their personal lives.

Poor personal relationships

Poor work life balances can lead to poor relationships. This is because work takes up an employee's spare time, and means they have less time to spend with friends and family.

For example, an employee may have to cancel on a friend again because they have to work late. As a result, the friend could become angry and end their friendship with the employee.

Low productivity

Employees with an unhealthy work life balance may also be less productive. For example, an employee may have to work late one night to finish all their tasks. Even if they were to show up on time for work the next day, they may feel sluggish and tired.

This can mean that the standards of their work declines. And they may become less productive - especially if they continue the cycle of working late, or working more hours.

Poor physical health

An unhealthy work life integration can also lead to poor physical health. Employees may feel their job has too many demands to fulfil without hindering their personal lives.

For example, if an employee focuses more on work than on themselves, they may stop prioritising their health. This could lead them to develop short or long-term illnesses.

Stress may also weaken an employee’s immune system. Which increases their chances of becoming sick.

Implementing a good work life balance

Every employee will approach balancing work and life differently. But essentially, it's about setting firm boundaries between their work and personal lives.

It's up to you as an employer to promote a healthier work life balance. There are several ways you can achieve this.

Promote employee wellbeing and mental health awareness

To promote employee wellbeing and mental health awareness, you should consider signposting resources in your workplace. This may include details of nearby mental health services, self care guidance, or even advice from a professional mental health foundation.

You must also ensure employees separate their work from their personal lives. For example, if an employee experiences a major life event, you may encourage them to take more breaks from their working week to reflect on this.

Increase support for parents

Implementing a good work life balance means considering the needs of all your staff members. This includes young workers, older workers, and those with young children.

A parent's first priority will always be their children. So it's important you recognise this and provide them with what they need to balance work around their job. This includes offering adequate parental leave and flexible working.

Offer flexible hours and remote working

Many employers choose to offer flexible hours and remote working. Which can help employees find balance at work and home.

Offering flexible working gives employees the chance to work when it suits them. This can be especially beneficial to parents, or those who have to care for sick family members.

Working remotely means employees spend less time getting ready for work and commuting, and more time at home with family. Ultimately, both options offer employees a greater sense of control over their lives.

Get feedback from employees

You could also give your team an employee engagement survey. This will give you an idea of how staff members feel about their work and workloads. As well as helping you identify any areas of improvement.

The benefits of a healthy work life balance

Encouraging your employees to have a healthy work life intergration has many benefits for their wellbeing. And even for your business's operational efficiency.

These benefits include:

Improved employee engagement

A healthy work life balance can improve employee engagement. Because workers create a separation from their personal and professional lives, it gives them a break from thinking about their job.

This separation allows employees to come to work refreshed - which in turn could lead to them approaching their responsibilities in a more productive way. And help them do a better job of their tasks.

Improved physical and mental health

A better work life balance can improve the physical health of your employees. Employees who are stressed are more likely to fall ill.

Moreover, if they fail to take care of themselves because they are focused on work - they can also fall ill more often. With a proper work life balance, employees can reduce stress and prioritise their health.

It can also improve their mental health. This is because a balanced life gives individuals the freedom to spend their spare time however they'd like. So they can pursue activities they enjoy and that make them happy, whilst improving their wellbeing.

Less workplace absences

Staff with an unhealthy work life balance are more likely to take time off. This is due to ill health or stress. With a healthy work life balance, employees are less likely to be stressed about work. And are less likely to dread attending the workplace.

Moreover, with less stress comes less chances of workers falling ill. So there is less likelihood of staff members taking sick leave.

Low employee turnover

Another benefit to promoting work life balance in your workplace is the decrease in employee turnover. When employees have a poor work life integration, they will most likely look for a new job that offers a better balance.

Not to mention, your workplace may even gain a bad reputation from past employees who share their negative experience with others. This might make it difficult to attract new hires.

But, if you decide to promote a better work life balance, your staff will trust you to do what's in their best interest. Which will help you to build a better relationship with them. And subsequently, they'll be less likely to move jobs.

Get expert advice on work life balance from Peninsula UK

You should promote healthy work life integration in your workplace. This will encourage employees to separate work from their personal life and could improve employee wellbeing. As well as workplace productivity.

Without a healthy balance between work and home life, your staff members could face poor physical health. Not to mention, your business may experience high employee turnover, employee stress, and even reputational damage.

Peninsula offers you expert 24/7 HR advice and support, to help you reduce stress, as well as aid you and your staff in achieving a healthy work life balance today. Contact us on 0800 028 2420.


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