Work-Life Balance Vs. Life-Work Balance

Achieving a work-life balance has become the Holy Grail for the hard-working, time-starved modern day worker.  We want the job that enriches our lives and challenges us but doesn’t consume our every fibre 24/7.  We crave a job that needs us and falters without us, but doesn’t creep into our home lives.  We are looking for that job that pushes our boundaries and tests our capabilities but doesn’t leave us stressed out.  We want all the responsibility, whilst having an abundance of free time to spend with family and friends.  On top of all that, we want this perfect job to pay us handsomely so we can live the life we have always dreamt of.

Does this job even exist or is this a never-ending quest for some greener grass? 

Of course, there is no perfect job, and there is always a compromise.  Whatever your set of circumstances, a work-life balance is crucial to being happy, healthy people.

What should we focus on?

Perhaps we should be re-addressing the focus completely.  Instead, should it be a life-work balance – finding a job that fits around our life? 

81% of the nation admits that stress has a tangible impact on their lives, with the most common consequence being sleep loss, which affects 57% of those suffering. 

Its no secret that work stress can have an incredibly negative impact on our physical and mental health, so finding ways to ease the stresses of work is crucial, and key to that is making time for yourself outside of work.

Why employers should be thinking about it too

This isn’t just a quandary for employees.  If they strike a better balance, this could be good for business too.  Rather than battling your way around working time regulations, there could be a more novel way to improve productivity – that could improve the workers’ lives, and decrease staff turnover.

A classic example is Perpetual Guardian – the New Zealand based firm who trialled a four-day working week last year.  In an experiment on productivity, workers were asked to fit five days’ work into just four.  The advantage was they would work one less day but still be paid for working five days.

The experiment was a success, with the workers becoming more productive; achieving five-day’s work in just four days.  Staff wellbeing and engagement also improved during the trial, with stress levels decreasing by 7% and life satisfaction increasing by 5%.

What can we all do?

Groundbreaking experiments aside there are small things we can all do to get the balance right.  With modern day technology making us ‘available’ 24/7 it’s important to implement some offline time too. 

Take a walk in the fresh air during your lunch break, set a time in the evening that you will stop checking work emails (or don’t check them outside of work at all) and schedule time for yourself just as you schedule time for work commitments.  After all, we should be working to live, not living to work.

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