What is Work Life Balance and How Organizations Can Help Employees Avoid Burnout
Why Work Life Balance and Employee Wellbeing Became Hot Issues in Recent Times
Of late, the topic of burnout and employee health at the workplace have become hot issues that need the attention of organizations, the employees themselves, and the associated stakeholders such as the Human Resources (HR) professionals and the psychologists who are often hired by the former to help their employees avoid burnout.
This sudden interest in Employee Wellbeing and the need for proper Work Life Balance is due to the high incidence of burnout among professionals that leads to both personal productivity losses as well as impacts the overall organizational productivity.
Moreover, with the onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the resultant WFH or Work from Home model that has been put in place, mental health of employees becomes a challenge and hence, there has been renewed focus on helping employees avoid burnout.
Indeed, Work Life Balance is something that needs urgent attention from organizations as working extra hours without time for relaxation can lead to stress and burnout.
In addition, given the high pressure situations and the humungous stakes of working in top notch firms leaving employees exhausted means that eventually firms also lose out.
How Employers and Employees need to realize that there is a Life beyond Work
So, how do organizations ensure that their employees have optimum Work Life Balance?
In addition, how do they implement the Work Life Balance models with the active cooperation of the employees?
Apart from this, are there any steps that the employees themselves can take to ensure that they are sufficiently relaxed and de-stressed?
To start with, there have to be fixed hours of work so that employees go home on time, or even if they work late, the next day, they must be allowed to come late to the office.
While the fixed hours working is idealistic and especially so in India, where it is routine for employees to work late into the evening, there are organizations that insist on this aspect wherein late working is penalized.
In addition, under no condition should employees be allowed to take work home, which is different from work from home.
To explain, there must be strict rules prohibiting employees from attending calls at home and only allowed when they are WFH.
This is the case in France where recently the government has passed laws that allow employees to reject calls from work and not reply or respond to official emails after working hours.
Specific Policies and Rules for Work Life Balance and To Avoid Employee Burnout
Apart from these aspects, a healthy Work Life Balance can also be achieved by ensuring that employees take Mandatory Breaks from work.
In other words, leaves must be fully utilized so that employees and in turn organizations can learn to live without each other.
Indeed, Mandatory Vacations ensure that organizations are not too dependent on particular employee and in turn, employees get the much deserved break.
The key to optimum Work Life Balance is the notion that Work is Not Everything and there is a Life beyond Office. This must be the guiding principle of all models of Work Life Balance.
Apart from this, in recent times, organizations have been hiring dedicated psychologists and experts in Work Life Balance to help their employees chart out individual Work Life Balance plans that are specific to each employee.
These customized plans are drawn up based on the employees position in the hierarchy, his or her level of responsibility, and the associated work that they do.
Moreover, there is also the aspect of Fun at Work activities that help employees in de-stressing during office hours.
There are some firms that have Offsite camps for employees to unwind and relax after a gruelling project.
Most Work Life Balance Plans are a Myth and Need for a Paradigm and Mindset Shift
Having said that, these plans and models for Work Life Balance look good on paper whereas in reality, employees continue to slog at work.
Therefore, what is needed is a complete Paradigm and Mindset shift wherein both employers and employees form a pact to ensure that employees do not burnout and at the same time, the organizations do not lose out on work.
Indeed, in our working experience, we have found that Work Life Balance is a Myth and more often than not, all the plans for this exist only in Theory and in practice, it is Business as Usual.
This is where there has to be a Systemic push towards making Work Life Balance the cornerstone of laws and organizational policies.
For instance, Europe has shown the way in how Work Life Balance can be achieved as mentioned earlier in the case of France.
In addition, the UK too now has laws that let employees take time off for Mental Health Issues.
Taken together, these initiatives can be the beginning of the long awaited Wellness Revolutions at the Workplace.
Indeed, it is high time organizations let their employees live more fulfilling lives where work is not the only pleasure.
Last, the ongoing Pandemic has made things worse as far as Work Life Balance is concerned. While WFH was earlier thought to be a Stress Buster, continuous working from home means that the separation (already flimsy) between Work and Home is now blurred completely.
Indeed, WFH has brought in its wake its own Employee Wellbeing challenges and many firms are now struggling to cope with the high levels of stress among their employees arising from no fixed hours working and the like.
To conclude, organizations must realize that without proper Work Life Balance, they are effectively killing the Golden Goose.
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Authorship/Referencing - About the Author(s)
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