The ubiquitous work life balance subject has much been debated, analysed and discussed. The concept for working professionals has long been presented as a goal, an achievement and having reached that desired goal pat yourself on the back because you've made it! You have nailed the working 8 hours and spending the rest of your time with family, relaxing or taking leisure opportunities. During the pandemic home and working lives have at times blended into one and many professionals are finding it very difficult to switch off. Can the balance be achieved in 5 steps or is it more of a process?
Interesting new research has come to light which asks the question - is work-life balance a process or is it a goal? Experts are now encouraging professionals to think another way suggesting work-life balance is a life long process, an awareness that will require adjustments and tweaks along the way. A study undertaken in 2020 investigated Role Distancing and the Persistence of Working Long Hours in a Professional Environment , the researchers assessed 80 employees aged 30-50 who worked within middle-management roles and had at least 1 dependent. The research found that 30% of men and 50% of women resisted working longer than 8 hours each day. Other employees worked long hours each day simply because they thought this is what professionals do.
Here's where the research gets interesting, it was discovered that of the professionals that took a more balanced approach to their work, using "reflexivity" which is the ability to reflect and and question assumptions in the name of self-awareness, regularly checking and adjusting any obstacles in the process. Pausing, checking and assessing stumbling blocks that interfere with the work-life balance was high on the list enabling a person to find the mental head space to discovering and implementing new ways to achieve the balance.
5 steps have been discussed in the research this article is based upon and the steps are not necessarily the self-help advice we commonly read:
1. De-normalise Popular Beliefs
2. Identify Causes of Stress
4. Consider Alternatives
5. Implement Changes
Experts in this study say that this balance is not simply how you can divvy up your hours each day, making those changes but not identifying your emotional needs can still result in a person not enjoying the way they spend their time either at work or at play. Mentally we can still easily be "at work", still processing events during the day which can result in mental absence. Finding the physical and mental balance shouldn't be something you do by yourself.
Organisations have a big role to play in helping their employees find this balance and the pandemic has torn up the rule book in this regard. Conversations are being held more than ever by clients and candidates on how best everyone can balance their work-life. One thing is for certain, more support is needed. Flexible and hybrid roles are certainly going to be an important part of how we all balance our personal and professional lives going forward.
If the perfect balance is elusive for you, gaining perspective can certainly help - we are living in unprecedented times and often just having this conversation is a luxury, a privilege to reflect upon.
Xpert Resourcing is an independent Recruitment Agency based in Ely supporting clients and candidates in the recruitment process for both temporary and permanent positions. Serving the Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridge areas to provide a consultative, tailored approach to services for roles in HR & Admin, Finance and Accounting, Scientific, Sales & Marketing, Insurance and Industrial.
Contact one of the friendly specialists on 01353 886252 to have a confidential chat about your requirements either as a client or candidate.