The average person spends 90,000 hours working — that’s about 14 percent of your life.
For many of us, that 13 percent can feel all-consuming. We might put in extra hours, answer emails at home, and think about an important while trying to fall asleep. But when work spills into other parts of our lives, it’s likely to lead to stress and burnout.
So, how do you address an “all work and no play” mentality in clients, employees, or yourself? Emphasize the importance of work-life balance. Read on to learn how to help yourself and others keep work at the office and unwind at home.
What is work-life balance?
As the name suggests, work-life balance is when you have enough time to accomplish your professional work, act on your personal goals, and relax. Many credit Welsh manufacturer Robert Owen with the concept — he advocated for workers in the 1800s and asked for “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”
Today, the definition of work-life balance has expanded to be less strict. Some examples of work-life balance you might spot in a modern office include:
- Flexible schedules that allow people to work remotely or during hours outside of the typical 9–5
- Unlimited paid time off, which gives workers time to care for themselves and their families (and take vacations) when needed
- Time to work on personal projects, like Google’s “20 percent policy” that encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their office time learning new skills
Why is work-life balance important?
While not all of today’s workers perform physical labor, rest remains as crucial as ever. Employees benefit when they can successfully balance their workload and personal projects — and their companies are rewarded, too.
Here are just a few ways that work-life balance can strengthen a business and its team members:
Improves quality of life
Perhaps the most obvious perk of jobs that prioritize work-life balance is how it impacts employee well-being. When workers have enough free time to focus on self-care, important relationships, and hobbies, their mental health and morale improve. A happy workforce sets the foundation for a successful business, as worker well-being is directly connected to turnover rates, engagement, and work quality.
Productivity is essential for any business to thrive, but if you want to make the most of your company’s work hours, you need to prioritize work-life balance for your team. Employees who feel rested, engaged, and happy often try harder and produce better work than overtired colleagues. Investing in work-life balance is a great way to maximize your team’s potential.
Promotes overall health
Work-life balance benefits workers’ mental health — and it’s also great for your physical health. When employees have free time (and aren’t exhausted from their jobs), they have more opportunities to exercise, make healthy eating choices, and get the rest they need. The result is a healthier workforce who can deliver their best work every day.
Research suggests that 43% of Americans feel “burned out” at work. This is a big problem for employers, as burnout contributes to high turnover, employee disengagement, and low-quality work. Exhausted workers even contribute to company spending — burnout-related healthcare expenses cost companies between $125 million and $190 million a year. Companies that prioritize work-life balance can prevent burnout before it sinks its claws into their workforce.
Supports relationships inside and outside of work
Most people understand that building their careers requires a certain degree of sacrifice and commitment. But no one should have to sacrifice their relationships to produce good work. Humans are social creatures: our relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues help make us healthier and happier. Work-life balance gives people the quality time required to forge and develop those relationships to be their best selves.
How to improve your work-life balance
Many modern workers cite work-life balance among their career goals — and you probably want to be one of them. So how can you improve your work-life balance? Here are a few tips:
1. Set realistic goals
The first step toward improving your work-life balance is to discover what “balance” means to you. What will benefit your mental health? Is it a remote or hybrid schedule? Or a longer lunch break so you can exercise at the gym? Once you’ve figured out what makes you feel happy and healthy, set realistic goals that help you manage expectations with your employer and yourself. If your current position doesn’t allow you to strike a balance, consider looking for a new role at a company that prioritizes staff wellness.
2. Leave work at work
Many workers struggle to feel “off the clock” when the work day is over — especially those who work from home. Creating mental and emotional space between your work hours and leisure time is critical to work-life balance. Try to disconnect from work when you’re done for the day, even if that means turning off your email notifications and putting your work laptop in a drawer.
3. Take breaks
When work gets stressful, it can be tempting to hunker down or “grin and bear it.” But overworking rarely delivers excellent results, and positive thinking can only keep burnout at bay for so long. Instead, give yourself time to breathe. Regular breaks are vital for a healthy mindset and good work.
4. Use tools to manage your workload
Let’s be honest: there are some parts of your workday you can afford to streamline. Removing some tasks from your plate and making the remaining ones a faster process is an excellent step toward better time management. Don’t be afraid to utilize tools, like a customer relationship management (CRM) system, to help you manage your schedule, track payments, and speed up other daily tasks.
How can a workplace improve work-life balance?
Work-life balance can feel like an individual journey. After all, each person rests and recharges differently. But even though workers pursue their own type of balance, employers play a vital role by setting expectations and defining the company culture.
Here are a few work-life balance tips for facilitating positive change in the workplace:
1. Encourage employees to rest
We’ve all seen employees work through their breaks, eat lunch at their desks, or burn the midnight oil night after night. If you spot your team members working this voraciously, gently remind them to take a break — or a vacation. Even a little pause can do a world of good.
2. Focus on output, not time spent
In the days of remote work, it can be difficult to tell which employees are really at their desks from 9–5. But it can be beneficial for employers to shift their mindset away from physical presence. What matters is your employee’s output and the quality of their work, not that they wrapped up their day 30 minutes early.
3. Regularly review workloads
Just as employees must set realistic goals and boundaries to attain work-life balance, employers should check in to ensure their staff can meet expectations. Conduct regular reviews to verify that employees have the bandwidth for their current workloads.
4. Set a good example
Every employee, from the newest hires to the C suite, should prioritize work-life balance for themselves and their colleagues. Managers and high-level workers have even more reason to protect their mental health: they set the example for everyone else. Strive for balance in your career, and you’ll encourage everyone around you to do the same.
Save time at work with Practice
Work-life balance is essential for a happy workforce and a thriving company. By setting clear goals and boundaries for yourself — and respecting those of your employees and co-workers — your team can reap the benefits of a happier, healthier workplace.
Start a pattern of positive change and let Practice lend you a helping hand. It's our goal to support professionals like you as you manage the day-to-day — that’s why we designed our CRM platform. Practice’s CRM allows you to safely and securely communicate with clients, file important documents, and receive payments, all in one place.