Balancing Work and Life
We live in a world where work and home are increasingly intertwined. Work flexibility is no longer a perk for employees but a core part of companies’ and employees’ work strategies. Employees consider work-life balance as one of the top factors when choosing a job. Alternatively, many employers expect their workers to be available at all times via email, phone or direct message.
Balancing professional life with personal life is like a double-edged sword. Having a work-life balance offers the flexibility to fit in personal tasks during work hours and professional responsibilities during off-work hours. However, this can also erode the boundaries of work and personal time in meaningful ways and can, in fact, turn into “invasion” of off time.
Mechanisms of Integration
Integrating work-life balance occurs by having both flexibility and permeability. Flexibility is the extent to which a work boundary may contract or expand, depending on the demands of the work and home domains. For example, an employee who leaves work an hour early in order to attend a child’s sporting event has flexibility in the work boundary. Permeability is the degree to which an individual can enact one role while in the physical domain of another role. For instance, an employee who takes a call while at work regarding the scheduling of a health care appointment for an elderly parent has permeability in the work sphere.
Wins for Companies
Offering a work-life balance is a win for companies. It is the most deliberated topic in boardrooms when planning future talent management. Studies indicate that work-life balance is an important aspect of a healthy work environment. It helps reduce stress and prevents
burnout. Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the
workplace. It can have both physical
consequences (e.g., hypertension,
chronic aches, heart problems) and mental health implications (e.g., depression, anxiety, insomnia). By creating a work environment that prioritizes a work-life balance, employers can save money, boost staff retention rates, and maintain a healthier, engaged and satisfied workforce.
Wins for Employees
Work-life balance is a necessity for employees. However, in today’s integrated world, employees can struggle with fulfilling personal and professional responsibilities. Employers continue to expect more from staff, which leads to feeling pressured to achieve greater results. Consequently, this leads to longer working hours and less time spent at home. Work-life balance can offer peace of mind with life responsibilities so that employees can provide their maximum effort toward work responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is ultimately the responsibility of the employees to seek and maintain the balance.
How to Obtain a Work-Life Balance
- Maintain a network. Managing family and career requires a strong network of behind-the-scenes supporters. Equally important is emotional support when employees are dealing with an issue at work. Personal networks of family and friends serve as a reliable audience and can instill a fresh perspective on resolving a problem.
- Manage the technology. Deciding when, where and how to be accessible for work is an ongoing challenge. Rather than technology managing your presence in two places, insist on the value of undivided attention.
- Take time off. While it may feel difficult and often selfish to take time off, unplugging from work can offer immeasurable benefits. It can result in improved cognitive abilities, reduction of stress, a new view on old problems and renewed energy.
- Say no. Rather than being compelled into taking on extra initiatives, carefully evaluate the time commitment against personal and professional responsibilities, and then manage your availability. Determine and do what is important to you. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Talk to your employer. Many employers offer benefits that enable a work-life balance. Discussing your specific situation and determining appropriate flexibility through telecommuting, flex time, job sharing and part time may pave the way for the right balance.
Striking a healthy work-life balance is not a one-shot deal, rather an ongoing process as one’s personal and professional life changes over time.
Twinkle Tailor, CPA, is a financial analysis manager at Prudential Financial in Newark. She is an MBA Candidate at Rutgers University. Twinkle is a member of the NJCPA Emerging Leaders Council, Accounting & Auditing Standards Interest Group and the Student Programs & Scholarships Committee.
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This article appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of New Jersey CPA magazine. Read the full issue.