What’s Your Definition of Work-life Balance?

work life balance word cloudA recent ABC News survey found that 70% of U.S. employees dream of having a different job, and 28% said they often feel overworked and overwhelmed. In Canada, the statistics are just as grim, with research from Staples Canada, as reported by the Canadian HR Reporter, showing that 43% of employees are “overworked and burnt out.”

Work-life balance seems to have borne the brunt of the “do more with less” mentality that became the modus operandi for many companies in the years of recovery following the Great Recession.

Fortunately, with the improving economy, many businesses have started to realize the value of creating a more flexible work environment for their employees that encourages a healthier relationship between work and personal life.

Work-life balance isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. We all have our own definition of what it means to have our work and personal lives in sync. Finding harmony between the two is typically driven by the things in our lives we value most.

Time to spend with family and friends
For most people, the definition of work-life balance likely includes more time to devote to family and friends. From supporting the ones you love to enjoying leisure time with a few old college pals, the ability to nurture a positive home and social life away from the office is a major factor that impacts engagement in the office.

A study conducted by Workfront, a cloud-based project management software developer, found that “2 in 5 employees say that bad work-life balance ruins the time that is spent with family and friends.”

If you have a job that demands much of your time, it takes proactive planning in your personal life to stay involved. The ability to schedule plans and activities in advance is always nice, but in reality, it’s often not that easy.

So, where’s the balance?

Advances in technology have made many workforces more flexible, and working from home is much more feasible today than it was 10 years ago. Many businesses have helped their employees find balance by allowing them to do more outside the office.

In fact, a recent Gallup study found that, “51% of employees say they would switch to a job that allows them flextime, and 37% would switch to a job that allows them to work off-site at least part of the time.” And, according to the Staples Canada research, “39% of employees said greater flexibility would help them improve their happiness at work.”

But if your job is less flexible, your best bet is to fully commit to the free time you do have. Whether it’s having breakfast with your family every morning, meeting friends for lunch every other Thursday, or proactively blocking out time on your work calendar for your kid’s soccer season, building quality time into your daily routine will make it easier to commit to fostering those important relationships.

And, for bigger events like vacations, scheduling as far in advance as possible allows you to not only better prepare yourself, but also ensures that your team and other stakeholders at work won’t be caught off guard.

Freedom to pursue personal interests and hobbies
Family and friends aren’t the only drivers of work-life balance. In a 2016 poll, we asked our readers how different their career path has been from what they envisioned, and only 7% said they are exactly where they thought they’d be at this point in their lives.

Whether it’s driven by ease or necessity, it’s common to fall into a career path that isn’t necessarily one for which you have a great amount of passion. It may pay the bills, but if you’re unenthusiastic about work and dread waking up each day, there’s a good chance it’s knocking your work-life balance out of whack and it might be time to make a change.

In a situation like this, the solution often comes with even more questions. Do you leave a stable job to pursue your passion? Will you have to start over from the bottom and work your way up the corporate ladder again? Can you even afford to begin a new career? There’s not an easy answer, but for many workers, especially the younger generations, multiple career changes throughout their working life is becoming more common.

According to a LinkedIn study, “over the last 20 years, the number of companies people worked for in the five years after they graduated has nearly doubled.” This likely a trend that will only become more commonplace in the future.

One option that can provide stability while exploring new career opportunities is working temporary jobs through a staffing company like Express Employment Professionals. In fact, according to research from the American Staffing Association (ASA), nearly half of staffing company employees say they chose temporary or contract work because it can lead to a permanent job.

Staffing companies allow you to take job assignments in all industries at all levels of business, so it’s a great way to test a new career while maintaining full-time hours. Depending on the staffing company, you may receive benefits like health insurance, as well.

What is work-life balance to you?
For most people, the definition of work-life balance it’s likely a mix of multiple factors … the keyword is “balance” after all. And the first step to leveling out your personal and professional lives is pinpointing the cause of the imbalance.

What factors most contribute to your work-life balance? What steps have you taken to get your personal and professional live in sync? Let us know in the comments section below.

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