Some jobs just aren’t compatible with young families. Workplaces may try to counteract this by offering their workers flexi-time, paternity leave and working culture incentives like dress-down Fridays and drinks trolleys – but all of this is masking the core issue of having the right work-life balance.You may also like to read: "Making workspaces fit for flexible working."
Nigel Marsh explains during his TED talk the reality of society: “There’s thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation. Where they work long, hard hours, in jobs they hate, to enable them to buy thing they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”
Nigel Marsh, TED Talks “How to make work-life balance work.”
Finding the balance between work and life
Never leave the quality of your life in the hands of a commercial corporation. They will always understandably put business first. An organization will try to get as much out of you as they can, for as little as possible - that is just the nature of business.
Even the well intentioned companies will try to shift the balance more towards work by coaxing employees with free breakfasts and evening meals - so people end up working longer hours. Some businesses will even provide child care facilities for younger families – but again this is a double-edged sword.
Governments and corporations aren’t going to solve the issue of the modern work-life balance. It’s up to each individual to take responsibility for the type of life they want to lead. Ultimately if you don’t design your life - someone else will, and you may not like their idea of balance.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2014/15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That's 40% of all work-related illness.
With health at risk, it’s extremely important to set the boundaries between work and life clearly. Be realistic about how much you can achieve in a day and week. Do not fall into the trap of “I’ll have a life when I retire.” What use is a life when your children have grown up and moved away, your wife has divorced you, your health is poor and you have no friends or hobbies?
Equally things like joining the gym isn’t a quick fix. It won’t suddenly mean that you have a more balanced life, it'll just mean you’re fitter. You need to balance your life spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.
What determines a successful life?
We need to change societies definition of success. It’s not a case of the person with the most money when they die, wins. After all most CEOs feel regret throughout their career when it comes to their family and how much time they invested in their lives.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance should be the determining factor of success, not money.
A good starting point for businesses to help people design their own healthy work-life balance is by creating flexible working policies, agile workspaces and reducing the amount of micro-managing. This will allow people to balance their days better and work more effectively.
Businesses also need to set their expectations of working hours, and help people realise what is and isn't acceptable. Get rid of the fear factor of "leaving on-time" and empower people to be realistic about deadlines, targets and what's actually possible.
Have you cracked the right balance? Share your tips below.