Because many employees experience a personal, professional and monetary need to achieve, work-life balance can be challenging. Work-life balance is a concept that describes the ideal situation in which an employee can split their time and energy between work and other essential aspects of their life.
Achieving work-life balance is a constant challenge. It can be tough to make time for family, friends, community participation, spirituality, personal growth, self-care, other personal activities, and workplace demands.
The State of Work-life Balance in Australia
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found Australia ranked 27 out of 35 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries regarding levels of work-life balance. (1)
The report showed that certain groups are more affected than others by an imbalance in work and personal time, including:
- Women, who typically have less adequate work-life balance than men, and do around twice as much caregiving and domestic work (on average)
- Parents, particularly mothers and even more so, single mothers
- People who are caring for others, such as sick, elderly or disabled relatives
- The ‘sandwich generation’ – women who care for children as well as elderly or ill relatives
- People in certain occupations including managers, professionals and those in the mining industry
Those who have a poor work-life balance are more likely to experience high levels of stress and burnout, which is a state of emotional and physical exhaustion that can occur after a long period of excessive or stressful work.
3 Reasons Why Work-Life Balance Is Important
1. We become less susceptible to burnout (2)
Whilst occasional stress takes place as part of every job, burnout should certainly not be commonplace. According to The Help Guide, burnout occurs “when you feel overwhelmed and unable to meet constant demands”.
The adverse effects of burnout can impact every area of your life, including your personal and social life. Work-life balance is essential as it allows you to separate work and home, meaning that work stress should stay at work and not follow you outside of office hours.
Allowing work stress to infiltrate your home life is one of the primary indicators for not achieving a work-life balance. If this is happening to you, it’s important to address it. Take the time to talk issues over with your manager or develop a plan to avoid burnout as a result of your professional demands.
2. Attention is paid where due
As you develop a balance between work and home, this can come with more control of where your focus remains. If you leave your employment at the office, your full attention will be on your home life and giving your relationships the awareness they deserve.
When spending time with your partner, children or friends, your mind should be solely focused on the experience you are having, rather than thinking of work. Similarly, if you are in the office, greater focus should be paid to the tasks at hand. In turn, this makes you a more efficient worker and demonstrates one of the many benefits of achieving a work-life balance.
3. We experience fewer health problems
It’s no secret that when we are run down, tired or stressed, our immune system is the one to suffer. Healthline explains that “stress can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect your overall health and wellbeing”, from less severe conditions such as the flu to more serious health issues such as respiratory or digestive problems.
Either way, the fact that stress can impact your health so much is even more of a reason as to why maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential. Taking the time to look after yourself by exercising, eating well and relaxing can limit your health problems and make you a more efficient worker during business hours.