Achieving work-life balance

Work-life balance is defined as “a
person’s control over the conditions and interactions in and between their workplace, family, friends,
community and self.” This seemingly
impossible feat is accomplished when one
feels equally satisfied about key areas of
his or her personal life and paid occupation.

Studies show that finding a proper work-life balance is mutually beneficial to individuals, their employer and society. The
question of how to achieve work-life balance in today’s fast paced world is not an
easy one to answer. Many mistakenly think
of work-life balance as something an
employer must do for employees when, in
fact, work-life balance is a two-prong
approach. One prong does involve work-place initiatives but the other prong, which
people often overlook, relates to what individuals do for themselves.

Smart Business sought advice on finding
balance from Diana R. Owens, account
executive for JRG Advisors, the management company for ChamberChoice.

Why has the work-life balance become an

Today’s world does not always allow for
a distinct separation between ‘work’ and
‘life’ and the boundaries are not as clear as
they were years ago. There was a time
when employees showed up for work
Monday through Friday and worked eight
to nine hours, but in today’s world the
boundaries have blurred. The global economy, international business and advances
in communication and technology are all
contributing factors that have enabled
work to invade people’s lives.

While the role of ‘work’ has evolved
throughout the years, it is still a necessity
and, in today’s world, should also be a
source of personal satisfaction. Many
Americans struggle to obtain a healthy balance and often neglect some important
areas of their lives as a result.

Whether your life includes a spouse
and/or children, running a household or
caring for a sick parent, work-life balance
is an issue for everyone at some point in
their lives.

What can employers do to help?

By offering work-life balance initiatives, employers can help create a better
balance between the demands of the job
and enjoyment of life outside work.
Examples of work-life initiatives include
family leave policies, Employee
Assistance Programs (EAPs), flex-time/condensed workweeks, job-sharing, on-site childcare and fitness facilities or fitness membership assistance.

Telecommuting is another relatively
new work-life concept brought about by
the widespread availability of computers
and the Internet. This allows employees
to link to a company’s computer network and work from home. The purpose
of telecommuting is to allow employees
to spend less time commuting and provide greater flexibility in their schedules.

Studies show that successful work-life
balance strategies will reduce stress levels and increase employee job satisfaction, while increasing productivity and
reducing absenteeism and turnover for
the employer — a win for both the
employee and the employer.

What can employees do to achieve a better

It is not easy to juggle the demands of
career and personal life. For most people,
it’s an ongoing challenge to reduce stress
and maintain harmony in key areas of
their life. Achieving work-life balance is
not the sole responsibility of employers.
Individuals need to take an active role in
evaluating their lifestyle in order to find
the balance that is best for them.

There are a variety of ideas to help
employees find the balance they need.
Time management plays a very important
role. For example, organizing household
tasks efficiently — doing one or two loads
of laundry every day rather than saving it
all for their day off; not feeling guilty
about an unmade bed or sink of dirty dishes — these things won’t impact the quality of their life. Getting enough sleep —
there is nothing more stressful than trying
to accomplish a multitude of tasks when
you’re sleep deprived. Employees also
need to protect their private time; setting
aside time for themselves each week so
they can do whatever it is that helps them

Remember that work-life balance does
not mean doing everything. Examine your
company’s priorities and set boundaries.
Be firm in what you can and cannot do. In
the end, employers can help employees
who help themselves and begin to restore
a harmonious work-life balance.

DIANA R. OWENS is an account executive with JRG Advisors,
the management company for ChamberChoice. Reach her at
(412) 456-7251 or [email protected].