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Importance of Work-Life Balance

You’ve probably heard the term “work-life balance” more than a few times. It’s easy to understand – it’s the amount of time and attention a person devotes to their career compared to outside activities – and every employed person does have it. However, work-life balance exists on a spectrum and varies significantly between each individual person, even those within the same occupation or even the same company. 

Depending on the person, they may view their overall work-life balance existing anywhere between extreme positive or extreme negative (AKA work-life imbalance) based on a wide range of factors. As a result, more and more organizations have started to not only acknowledge work-life balance as an idea, but also the positive or negative effects it can have on employees. 

The importance of work-life balance is no longer understated. And many companies, including Shamrock Trading Corporation and our family of brands, have made concerted efforts to help employees achieve a positive balance and higher job satisfaction overall. Below, we talk more about the effects of negative work-life balance, as well as what employees (and businesses) can do to achieve a positive work-life balance.

The Effects of an Unhealthy Work-Life Balance

Personal or family issues can certainly impact work-life balance. However, from an employment perspective, most of us have had jobs where that balance leaned negative for a variety of reasons. 

From tangible factors like lack of pay or benefits, long hours and large workloads to intangibles like poor culture, lack of leadership and limited development, so many different things can make us dread the days we have to come into work. In many instances of work-life imbalance, people will have to deal with more than just one of these factors at the same time.

Every job has its good days and bad days, and just about everyone will have to deal with job-related stress at one point or another. However, when people experience negative work-life balance for a prolonged period of time, it can cause gradually worsening effects to their physical and mental health. The primary factor that causes health to decline, as you can likely guess, is long-term stress. 

When you’re dealing with consistent stress each day for months, or even years, on end, it can lead to problems like depression, anxiety and burnout. Many people also develop compounding physical problems, either from the stress itself or through coping mechanisms. These problems may include fatigue, high blood pressure, digestive problems and more. 

Why Employers Should Prioritize Work-Life Balance

The importance of work-life balance cannot be overstated due to the aforementioned health effects that prolonged stress can cause. At the same time, however, encouraging a healthy balance isn’t just a way for employers to protect their employees’ health. Shamrock, along with many other companies, have seen first-hand how prioritizing work-life balance can benefit an entire organization. Below are just a few examples. 

  • Better productivity and performance: Human beings aren’t machines or robots. We aren’t built to continuously push ourselves with increasingly larger workloads and even tighter deadlines. In order to be productive, we need to have periods of time where we can fully rest and relax, which also helps prevent burnout. 

    Research shows that employees are much more likely to be engaged with their work and deliver higher-quality results if they believe they have a good balance between their career and their personal lives. And when tight deadlines or increased workloads do inevitably occur, employees are able to perform at their best.

  • Less turnover and more loyalty: The mindset of the average U.S. employee is changing. Today’s job candidates now consider work-life balance to be the thing they value most when looking for a career. If you’re constantly turning over staff, hiring and retaining top performers becomes a much bigger challenge, and all of that turnover can cause projects to suffer due to delayed timelines and potentially lower quality of work.

    On the other hand, recognizing the importance of work-life balance often leads to more satisfied employees, and more satisfied employees tend to produce better results. The reality is that it can be hard for people to find a job where they feel valued and cared for, so companies that invest in the health and well-being of their employees often find they want to stay longer.

  • Improved culture and recruitment: People feed off the energy of their environment. When employees feel valued as both a worker and as a human being, they tend to be happier, more productive and more loyal, which rubs off on the people around them. In turn, this helps organizations establish a positive company culture where people have clearly defined expectations and build genuine relationships with their coworkers. People begin to take care of others knowing they’ll be taken care of as well. 

    And again, given how hard it can be for people to find work environments like these, word will eventually get around. Organizations that value the importance work-life balance and prioritize a positive company culture are not only more likely to attract top talent, but keep them around as well. 

Five Tips Employees Can Use to Achieve (or Improve) Work-Life Balance

Each organization is different, and some companies may have a rigid structure and demanding workload that doesn’t allow employees much opportunity to improve their work-life balance individually. However, let’s assume that most companies recognize the importance of work-life balance and want what’s best for their employees, both personally and professionally. Here are some tips that workers can use to improve their situation:

  1. Take breaks throughout the day – Sitting in the same spot all day every day can be both unhealthy and counterproductive. Avoid burnout by taking breaks when you have the opportunity and use the time to take your mind away from your work. You may find that doing so actually can help you become a more creative and productive worker. 
  2. Talk to someone – It’s understandable why people might be afraid to talk to their boss or supervisor about this topic. Most don’t want to risk hurting their careers by appearing like they aren’t a team player. However, you might be surprised how understanding people can be. As we mentioned, many people have experienced first-hand the negative effects that come from poor work life balance. You can’t get help if you’re afraid to ask for it!
  3. Say “no” when necessary – Most of us want to advance in our careers, and taking on more work gives people the opportunity to show that they’re a team player with initiative. However, biting off more than you can chew isn’t good for anyone. Not only can it lead to additional stress, but it may also backfire by causing you to miss deadlines or submit lower-quality work. If you already have enough on your plate, make that fact known to the person asking and politely decline. Another option is to reprioritize your workload to drop certain tasks if you need to take on new responsibilities. Effective communication is important in situations like this. 
  4. Ask about company wellness initiatives – Many organizations offer certain benefits and programs designed to improve employee wellness. This might include anything from gym memberships and work-from-home flexibility to paid community service days and generous PTO policies. Do some research to find out if your company offers these opportunities. If they don’t, talk to your supervisor and see if your company would be open to offering them in the future.
  5. Set boundaries – Technology and remote work have blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives more than ever. However, you should make an effort to use your time wisely during work hours so you can completely disconnect when you clock out for the day or take PTO. Make sure that others know that unless it’s an urgent situation requiring immediate attention, you’ll respond to any requests or questions when you’re back at work. 

Explore the Shamrock website to learn more about us, our family of brands and open positions!