During these unsettling times of uncertainty in the workforce because of coronavirus, I still think it’s important to strive toward work-life balance. There’s already been a lot said and written about work-life balance over the years, so I won’t say a lot more, but I do want to say a few things as a reminder. I read a LinkedIn post once in which a CEO claimed that work-life balance is crap. I thought that was such an ill-advised statement. Going through life unbalanced is uncomfortable, unhealthy and unproductive.
I found these definitions of balance in Webster’s dictionary: “1: an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. 2: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” When I think of work-life balance, I think of having the correct proportions of work and life outside of work so that we are able “to remain upright and steady.” I don’t think of 50% work and 50% life outside of work, but rather having both elements in correct proportion. Work is necessary and essential. In order to live and sustain our life, we must work. Work can also be fulfilling. But the other areas of our life are necessary and essential as well and if we don’t properly maintain them, the sad truth is that they will negatively affect our work. One big concern of over working is poor health and burnout. If we don’t cultivate the other areas of our life, we can ruin our health and get to the point where we physically or mentally cannot work anymore.
Consider these three important points to help you with work-life balance:
1. Recognize that over working is destructive.
It is destructive to your relationships, your physical health, your mental health, your emotional health and eventually to your work itself. Think about it. If you work yourself to the point of mental and emotional burnout, you’ll no longer be able to function in that job that is so important to you. You’ll become unbalanced and will no longer be able “to remain upright and steady.” Overworking may seem like a winning strategy, but in the long run, you may win some battles, but you’ll ultimately lose the war. Without balance, you will fall.
2. Truly believe that your life outside of work is just as important as work.
Understand that what you do outside of work is also a part of what makes you a whole human being. You are not just your job. Work is important but recreation is important as well. If you don’t engage in the proper proportion of life outside of work, you will not appropriately refresh yourself enough to continue to do quality work.
3. Refuse to live in fear.
Don’t live in fear of losing your job. Yes, you can be fired from your job for any number of reasons, but don’t be fearful that you will be terminated if you don’t work an unreasonable and unhealthy number of hours. If you know you’re good at your job and you’re dedicating yourself to your work, don’t be fearful. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t let anyone else’s irrational demands make you doubt yourself. If you decide to go home and finish that report tomorrow, it’s unlikely you will be fired the next day. Act out of reason, not out of fear.
Any employer that believes it can continually over work its employees without consequence is not very smart. Pushing employees to work to the point of burnout is abusive. Smart employers and smart managers recognize that to push employees to the point of burnout is bad for the employee and it’s bad for the company. The quality of the employee’s work will suffer, resulting in diminished quality of the service or product the employer provides. C-Suite Leadership needs to make a commitment to ensure that all leadership within their company understand that employees with unbalanced work-life will damage themselves and ultimately the company. So, stop the madness. Leaders need to encourage their employees to have work-life balance. It’s good for the employee and it’s good for business.
Note: I originally published this article on LinkedIn on July 27, 2020. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/importance-work-life-balance-ron-richardson/