Balancing Act


Why it is more important than ever to balance the scales between work and life

Remember what it was like to clock in at 8:00 am and clock out at 5:00 pm?  Remember leaving work by turning off your desktop computer (if you even had one), grabbing your briefcase, walking out the door and heading home for a nice dinner with the family, and then sitting down to read the newspaper, watch the news, play with the kids and finally falling into bed for a good night’s sleep? Some of us remember those times, but generation Y and Z employees may not. This was never their reality, and with the invention of laptop computers and cell phones, it is not anyone’s reality any longer.

The phrase work/life balance has taken its place at the forefront of workplace vocabulary and has been a repeated recommendation at many doctors’ and psychologists’ offices. The majority of us, to some degree, have lost the ability to separate our careers from our personal lives.  Employees can be contacted 24/7 by cell phone and through all types of media, blurring the lines of any clear-cut separation between work and personal life. Throw in the recent pandemic where everyone was working from home, and lines are now very blurry when work stops and your personal lives begin.

Separating work from your personal life is more important now than ever for several reasons.

  • 51% of workers say they have missed important life events because of work commitments
  • 77% of full-time employees have experienced burnout at their current job
  • 70% of employees read their emails while watching television at home
  • 40% of employees say they use their personal devices for work purposes after business hours
  • 83% of employees say their relationships are negatively impacted by burnout from work
  • 66% of employees say they often skip at least one meal per day because of work
  • Employees who work more than 55 hours per week are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Employees who work more than 55 hours per week are 1.66 times at higher risk of depression, and 1.74 times at higher risk for anxiety
  • Workers who report a poor work/life balance are twice as likely also to report poor health

With statistics like these, it is of utmost importance that employees learn how to balance reading emails at home and going to the gym or some other activity to decompress and relax. When you’re married to your work, fatigue inevitably sets in for whatever reason. This makes you less productive, increases mental stress, and creates health issues that you would otherwise not have. Stress has a negative effect on the human body, yet many just shrug it off. This is a mistake that will not only cause physical breakdowns but costs employees and employers millions of dollars a year in health and mental care costs.

I think you get the point: work/life balance is important. We can all do a better job at striking a balance we stay sharp, healthy, and productive.

A few things that help with this are:

1. Plan, plan, plan. Oh, and one more, plan. Planning (managing) your time is the most effective way to combat the work/life balance issue. Have you run into someone at the store you have not seen in a while, and at the end of the conversation, you both say, “We have to get together for dinner.”  Does it ever happen?  You are 70% more likely to have that dinner if you get out your cell phone and schedule a date right then and there. This is the same for anything. Plan to spend time with your spouse. Plan to spend time with your kids. Plan to spend time at the gym. Put it in your calendar, and the life side of your balance sheet will get better.

It is worth mentioning the importance of planning to take personal time off (PTO). At Austin, all employees have the good fortune of having paid time off. Make sure you take advantage of this great benefit by planning and scheduling your time off. And remember, you will be more likely to take PTO if it is on the calendar. This also helps managers manage workflow and deadlines more effectively.

2. Learn how to say no.  Again, we humans hate to disappoint anyone and often have a hard time saying no to someone who asks us to do something for or with them.  Once you say yes, you have now positioned yourself to have to take something back should you realize you have overbooked yourself. A suggestion to avoid this from happening is to replace, “Sure, I’ll do that” with a statement like, “Let me check” or “I’m not sure; let me get back to you.” This takes the immediate commitment off the table, giving you time to check how full your plate is and perhaps provide a more appropriate response.

3. Develop healthy habits. A healthy lifestyle helps us avoid the stress that can lead to diminished productivity, avoid physical ailments, and poor sleep. Make sure you are eating well, detaching from work, possibly by taking some PTO, or just not answering those pesky emails at such an ungodly hour.

We appreciate the skills you bring to our company, but we need them while you’re here. Not having a work/life balance will only allow you to provide a fraction of what you have to offer.


Vice President of Human Resources

Call 440.396.3696 | Email Jeff | View Profile

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