The Importance of Work-Life Balance and Its Impact on Mental Health
According to a global survey, one out of five workers noted that their employer disregards work-life balance and 37% said that their employers are demanding a lot from them during this time. As a result, 54% mentioned that they are overworked and 39% said that they feel exhausted.
Work-life balance has long been an issue even before the pandemic but it has become more apparent now given the work-from-home situation for some employees. Juggling their responsibilities at home and at work in the same physical space makes it difficult to focus on what should be prioritised.
This can lead to fatigue, burnout, temper flare-ups, poor health issues, higher levels of stress and anxiety, strained connections with family and friends, and sleeping pattern disruptions. The inability to maintain work-life balance is further compounded by feelings of unfulfillment, discontentment, disengagement, guilt for sacrificing family time for work — and vice versa — and even the fear of losing their job if they need to prioritise family matters.
Maintaining a harmonious work-life balance needs the support, understanding, and cooperation of both the employer/manager and the employee. Here are some suggestions on what can be done to help achieve this.
What employers/managers can do:
1. Offer flexible work schedule options
Employees may feel stressed because they have no control over their work hours. Offer options such as flexible hours (flexi-time) or a compressed workweek. This way, employees will be able to manage their tasks at home and deliver results at work, minus the stress of trying to squeeze everything in a rigid work schedule.
More importantly, a flexible schedule will allow the employee to have quality time for themselves and even make them more productive at work.
2. Provide “safe spaces” for mental health support
Companies must cultivate an environment where the employee will be treated fairly without judgment nor discrimination. Discuss their concerns in a sensitive manner, respecting their right to privacy and confidentiality. Help them identify and manage the factors that create negative mental health conditions which can hinder them from achieving work-life balance. Provide resources that will assist them in managing their issues.
Managers can initiate the conversations on mental health with their direct reports to help them feel at ease in communicating their work-life balance concerns. They may have difficulty processing what they’re going through and would rather work instead of dealing with these issues. But this might further build up feelings of frustration and exhaustion, which can affect their work performance. So make an effort to reach out.
3. Respect employee down time and manage expectations
Employees deserve to take some time off to unplug from the working world. Lunch breaks, weekends, paid time off leaves, holidays – these break periods are meant for them to rest, to recharge, and to spend quality time.
As much as possible, employers and managers should respect this time by not contacting them about work matters. While there will be times when this is unavoidable – depending on the work circumstances – it is advisable to at least minimise contact during their breaks.
What employees can do:
1. Practise time management
Employees can make to-do lists or use work management tools to keep track of what needs to be done for the day. Manage distractions as much as possible and set boundaries whenever necessary to focus on work.
Don’t forget to commit to spending quality time as well. Take scheduled breaks at work, get enough rest during weekends, take advantage of paid time-off leaves, and learn to say “no” to work matters during these time-off periods.
If the current work schedule makes it difficult to meet your commitments at work and at home, discuss it with your manager if it’s possible to adjust your schedule by considering flexible hours or other options.
2. Exercise to feel better
Employees are encouraged to make exercise part of the daily routine. This can contribute to work-life balance as this provides the time needed to focus on their physical and mental wellbeing.
Exercise has been proven to improve physical and mental health. It helps to reduce unhealthy, excess body fat, lower blood pressure, boost energy levels, enhance the body’s immunity system, and improve circulation and flexibility. It also triggers the natural release of feel-good hormones to help alleviate feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
3. Develop positive relationships for support
Foster positive relationships at work and at home. Having someone who has your back when things get overwhelming will give you the support you need to cope with stressful situations.
While this takes time to develop, it will prove to be beneficial in maintaining work-life balance. There will be times when you have to prioritise work over family, or the other way around. When this happens, it’s good to have someone you can trust to help you out.
Ultimately, be realistic with your schedule and your expectations. The pressure to always have the “perfect” work-life balance might end up as a source of stress instead. Some days, you’ll have to focus on one aspect over the other. Finding ways to improve work and home conditions and manage circumstances that are within your control may help reduce the factors that could lead to frequent work-life imbalance.
Workforce management consultancy in Vietnam
As a talent management solutions expert in Vietnam, The Talent Consultants supports initiatives that will help cultivate work-life balance to promote employee wellness and to enhance the work environment within organisations. Read our previous blogs on tips for work from home parents and on managing remote staff if you would like additional insights on this highly relevant issue. For assistance with professional talent acquisition services and RPO staffing in Vietnam, call us on +84 28 7309 7991 or book a consultation here.