The importance of a good work-life balance

It’s National work-life week from 12th-16th October and we wanted to share why it’s important to have a healthy work life balance. We’ve also shared a few hints and tips for employers and employees.

Why is a good work-life balance important?

When individuals have a poor work-life balance, it can lead to their health suffering and can ultimately affect their wellbeing. Research suggests that individuals who are overworked are at a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than those with a healthier work-life balance (Virtanen, 2010). Whilst mental health is also affected by a lack of a healthy work life balance with 27% of individuals feeling depressed if they are working long hours and 40% neglecting other aspects of their life (Mental Health Foundation).

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is not only important for health and relationships but it has also been found to improve employee’s performance and productivity. By individuals being able to leave work at work they can become more engaged and go the extra mile during their work hours (Perrin, 2006).

Studies into what a good work-life balance looks like

  • Byrne (2005) – This study suggests that the work-life balance is beginning to change with the generation of workers, with millennials wanting more control over when, where and how they work. They suggest that the work-life balance is achieved when the individual’s life inside and outside work is accepted, respected and is benefiting that individual. Within the workplace work-life balance might include flexi-hours, compressed working hours, self-rostering, working from home and flexible benefits. These types of work differences allow individuals to spend more time with their friends and families whilst be productive in their job role.
  • Spring (2002) – This study found that although work-life balance can mean different things for different employers and employees there are some basic wants for a good work-life balance. Employees tended to indicate a better work-life balance with incentives of flexi-time, a higher entitlement to holidays and less travelling to meet clients. It was indicated that these benefits allowed employees to spend more time at home with their families, allowing them to be more productive in their work environments.

What businesses can do to create a good work-life balance

  • Breaks – Encouraging small breaks throughout the day can help individual’s health and mental wellbeing. To help encourage this, workplaces could consider installing a ‘break out space’ such as a games room or a room with sofas to help individuals socialise and take their minds off work. All of these techniques have found to positively impact on your team’s performance, productivity and workplace happiness.
  • Healthy food options – ‘Fruit Fridays’ has been an initiative used to help the healthy work-life balance. Businesses work with local fruit grocers to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for employees encouraging them to eat healthily and have healthy snacks whilst at work. The benefits of eating fruit can also work against those of over working with helping to lower the risk of heart disease and strokes. Whilst also promoting mental wellness and improving moral and motivation.
  • Break out space – With individuals becoming more glued to their screens the use of a breakout space has found to be really important in order to encourage a better work-life balance, encourage employee retention and attracting individuals to the workforce. An efficient break-out area allows individuals to take their minds off the job promoting productivity, creativity and has found to improve wellness and reduce stress levels.
  • Employee Assistance Programme- Invest in an EAP to help support your employees. Make sure the provider is registered via the EAP Association. 
  • Mental Health First Aid – Having a trained mental health first aider is another way to keep a balanced work life. Mental health first aiders are trained to understand the benefits of a healthy work-life balance and it encourages employees to gain support on how to effectively achieve this balance.
  • Ask workers what they need – A work-life balance can look different to every employee and therefore it’s important to listen to your employees and how to achieve this. 41% of employees do not feel listened to regarding work-life balance, therefore encourage your employees to take part in a survey and give them balance-related options allowing the company to implement achievable work-life solutions.

Boundaries people can set to preserve their own mental health at work

  • Leave work on time – Are you often the last to leave work? Long hours mean you may be working harder but not necessarily working better, these long hours can take a toll on your productiveness, concentration and health. Try to leave work on time to help separate your time at work and time at home.
  • Ask for help – If you feel as though you are struggling to manage your work load, take the opportunity to discuss this with your manager or supervisor. It’s important to ask for help if you are struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Take your breaks- we know that breaks are essential for us to be productive. People often work through their breaks because they want to achieve more. However, when people don’t take timely breaks they are less productive.
  • Take time off – A break from work provides a chance to switch off and enjoy yourself, use this opportunity to recuperate and recharge. This is essential to improve your productivity and remain focussed whilst at work.
  • If you are working from home. Take a look at our working from home tips.

She struggled with her own gut health for many years, with over-the-counter medicines failing to provide any relief, so decided to take matters into her own hands, completing a three-year diploma in Nutritional Therapy.

She now works with people struggling with their own gut health, hormonal imbalances and chronic disease, taking a full-body approach to their health.

She delivers our Cultivating a Healthy Gut for Good Mental Health programme.

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Her background is in mental health and wellbeing having worked in a range of settings including businesses, the NHS and charities.

Kate has lived experience of mental illness and previously worked as a Peer Supporter for the NHS before joining a local company delivering sport and wellbeing session in schools where she spent many years before becoming a freelance trainer.

Kate has been a qualified Mental Health First Aid instructor since 2014.

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Her vast experience in business – working as a management consultant for companies like KPMG before setting up her own consultancy practice – has seen her designing and delivering practical interventions to companies from varying sectors.

She developed her own model for employee engagement that has seen fantastic success in the corporate world.
Sue has an MA in HRM/MCIPD and is a BPS registered Behaviour Assessor.

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