Work/Life Balance: A Prerequisite to Employees’ Health

Published May 28th, 2021 - 09:00 GMT
Work/Life Balance: A Prerequisite to Employees’ Health
More should be done in order to provide employees with a comfortable and safe workplace that supports the importance of having a healthy work/life balance. (shuttertstock)

Nowadays, people are becoming more aware about the importance of taking care of their overall physical and mental wellbeing. According to research, around 42% of participants say that wellbeing is a top priority and 79% are aware that it is important. If anything, then those numbers are emphasizing the fact that people now know better than to let their health spiral out of control. Furthermore, with the pandemic pushing many people indoors to work from home, many have found it difficult to set clear work/life boundaries. This might be quite challenging because when we work and live in the same place, the line between the two can become blurry, which might potentially impact a person’s wellbeing. Not only that, but the pandemic has also pushed people into realizing the importance of looking after their health. 

We all experience work related stress every once in a while, and that is part of the rollercoaster of life. But what is not okay is when that stress begins to take a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. The impact of working long hours can lead to severe mental distress. One study suggests that overworking is directly related to stress, depression and suicidal ideation. Not only that, but working long hours can also affect our physical health. Based on estimates done by WHO, there has been a 29% increase in deaths due to long working hours from 2000 till 2016. In 2016 alone, 745,000 people died by either stroke (398,000) or heart disease (347,000) because of working more than 55 hours per week. These numbers are alarming and are pointing to the fact that long working hours can in fact cause detrimental harm. And that is precisely why employers should take proactive steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees.  

So the question is, what can employers do to help employees reach a healthy work/life balance? 

- Happy workplace, happy employees! A great place to start would be cultivating a work environment that promotes wellbeing and health. Employees spend most of their day at work, so it is important to create a space that is not overwhelming or stressful. This way employees will feel comfortable and happy. When the company moves towards a culture that prioritizes their employees’ wellbeing, employees will feel more relaxed and therefore can become more dedicated and productive.

- Flexibility goes a long way! Promoting flexible working hours can help many employees manage their work/life balance better. The definition of work/life balance might differ from one person to another and you cannot cater to everyone’s needs. And that is why flexible working hours can be a great way to satisfy everyone. Flexible working hours are even said to decrease stress and thus burnout can be avoided. When employees are not stressed, they will be able to be more productive, efficient and even motivated to give their all! This simple option can pave the way for employees to become more 
comfortable, and even have time to practice some healthy habits. 

- Employers should lead by example. When employees see their leader setting clear work/life balance and taking care of their wellbeing, they tend to do the same. 
- Creating strong social connections at a workplace can also be a great way to make employees feel comfortable and able to ask for help or support when needed. 

In a nutshell, employees will not be able to perform well under severe stress and when suffering a burnout, therefore it is necessary for everyone’s sake that companies  work towards cultivating a culture that focuses more on health and wellbeing than on overworking and competition. 

It is pivotal for employers to become more aware of the impact of working long hours on their employees’ physical and mental health. More should be done in order to provide employees with a comfortable and safe workplace that supports the importance of having a healthy work/life balance.

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