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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Work-Life Balance

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is the fine balance between an employee’s work and personal life. To be truly satisfied with their lives, people can’t be all work or all play—they need to have both.

Why Is Work-Life Balance Important?

Helping your employees achieve a better work-life balance is beneficial for your company. It can make your employees less stressed and more productive.

Reduces Stress

Most employees in the United States cite their work responsibilities as their main source of stress. When people are overly stressed, it can put a strain on their mental health and negatively impact their work. 

Increases Productivity

When employees have the free time to manage their personal lives, they can be much more present at work and creatively solve their assignments.

What Causes Poor Work-Life Balance?

Many variables that are both within and outside of an employee’s control contribute to a poor work-life balance. However, there are a few things employers do that directly contribute:

  • Insufficient salaries and wages: Your employees have to keep up with ever-increasing housing prices and the inflating cost of food. If their wages don’t rise with their expenses, they can start to feel stressed.

  • Increased responsibilities: Some employers will overload their employees with responsibilities. This causes their work tasks to spill into their personal lives because they don’t have enough time during the day to finish.

  • Long working hours: Employers who schedule employees for copious amounts of overtime contribute to poor work-life balance.

What Are the Consequences of a Poor Work-Life Balance?

If employees have a consistently poor work-life balance, any of the following might happen:

  • Burnout: The employee is too drained to complete their tasks, which affects their engagement and productivity levels.

  • High employee turnover: As employees experience burnout and are less happy in their jobs, they may start applying to jobs elsewhere. 

  • Strain on relationships: Some employees who are overwhelmed may feel their tasks taking time away from their personal relationships, which can lead to even more resentment towards your company.

What Is the Optimal Work-Life Balance?

An ideal work-life balance changes based on an individual employee’s preferences, but there are a couple of common ideas that illustrate what the optimal work-life balance might look like. 

The first is a balance that allows employees to see their work life and personal life as two separate things. They don’t have to worry about tasks spilling into their time at home because they aren’t overwhelmed with responsibilities or required to work long hours.

The second idea is allowing employees to be flexible with work and life responsibilities. For example, say your employee’s kid has a soccer game at 2:30. Instead of missing it, the employee can go to the soccer game and take work calls during half-time or respond to emails during time-outs. 

In the end, employers may not be able to help their employees achieve a perfect work-life balance, but you can at least guide them towards a more realistic balance.

How Can Work-Life Balance Be Improved in the Workplace?

Employers need to make the well-being of their employees a priority. This could include:

  • Assigning employees reasonable hours

  • Focusing on productivity instead of hours

  • Encouraging employees to take frequent breaks

  • Assigning employees a manageable number of tasks

  • Giving staff more PTO

  • Increasing the number of perks

Don’t just settle for one of these ideas—employees will not feel encouraged to take breaks if they have an overwhelming amount of work to get done. Do your best to ease the burden for your employees while maintaining productivity in the workplace.

What Are Strategies for Encouraging a Good Work-Life Balance in Your Company?

Here are some work-life balance strategies and initiatives to consider:

  • Set boundaries with your clients/customers: Establish strict office hours when clients or customers can contact you with questions or new tasks. Only assign a handful of employees to take on requests during evenings, weekends, and holidays.

  • Offer more flexibility for working parents: Parents want a work schedule that can adapt around their kids’ schedules. Offering more flexibility for these employees can help them feel more appreciative of a job that allows them to prioritize their families.

  • Allow for telecommuting: If employees don’t have time to commute to the office on a given day, let them work from home. 

Are There Other Terms for Work-Life Balance?

Other terms for work-life balance include:

  • Work-life fit

  • Work-life integration

  • Work-life interface

  • Work-life sway