I’m working on grading final papers for a class that ends on Sunday and a theme I’m seeing work-life balance as a hot topic, and the importance of it. Of course, I’m seeing this from a worker’s viewpoint but there is also an importance for organizations, as well.
Workers today are in their jobs longer, which includes time spent at the office and off-site, i.e. working at home, on vacation, etc. But, is this due to employers demanding it or an internal belief?
If you look at some statistics out there, reasons given are on the employee themselves: worry about too much work they have to face when back; worry about missed opportunities; worry about what the boss thinks; the other disturbing fact is that 54% of Americans are giving up vacation and are leaving $66 billion back to their employers (Project: Time Off, 2017). Who does not find this disturbing?
Taking time off is a critical necessity to one’s physical and emotional health; it allows you to get tasks done you couldn’t get to while working; to reconnect with friends/family or your hobbies; and to feel refreshed for when you do go back to work. This means you need to set good boundaries for when you take time off, meaning you have to schedule it just as you would your hair appointment or doctor visit.
You are just as important – and your life, literally, can depend on it. Overwork and stress are silent killers as to the toll they can take on your mind and your body. You may not realize it now but will later as the stress chemical, cortisol, is released in large quantities and affects how you feel in all ways.
Getting a better handle on stress begins with setting good boundaries between your work and your life:
- add up the amount of hours you work, both at the office and away – you might be surprised at how this number will add up
- look to see if any of the work should have been done at the office – did you procrastinate on a task, were you pulled away by something else? These can uncover clues to how to structure your day
- now look at tasks you are doing at home and the reasons why you feel compelled to do so – could they have been during your day; do you feel more at ease to do them off-site? Again, see how your structuring your day.
- write down reasons why you feel it is ‘hard’ to take a vacation (yes, money can be in here), as this is important in your scheduling of time off. Answer the reasons given above to see how you feel about them as there is an emotional reason stopping you
- challenge your reasons to ‘see’ the other side, i.e. ‘will the office really fall apart if I’m not there?’
- set a date, or dates, for time off – this makes a ‘sort of’ commitment but you also need to see how it feels to actually set a date, which your employer is going to require notice of; you might be surprised that it’s not as scary as you think
There was some good news in the State of Vacation Report (2017), is that there was an increase in vacation use from 16.2 to 16.8 days; it’s not much but it’s a start. Tomorrow I’ll share work-life balance from an organizational perspective so stay tuned!
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