Striking a Healthy Balance

Globally, an increasing number of professionals are beginning to give precedence to their family lives over and above 60 hour work weeks spent at the office.

According to the Gordon Institute of Business Science, “the French have reduced the legal work week to 35 hours. The Australians have added paid parental leave of 18 weeks for the primary caregiver of new-borns and the United States requires larger employers to offer unpaid leave to employees with seriously ill family members”.

With this in mind, how can we as South Africans follow suite? Here are a few important tips.

Identify the Source

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, identifying the source of that anxiety is an important first step in the journey towards striking a healthy work/life balance.

Be it financial, personal or work related – try to understand what is causing those sleepless nights before taking action.

Similarly, all managerial staff should be equipped with practical knowledge relating to the alleviation of stress. Employees who are finding it difficult to cope often display symptoms which may be misunderstood as laziness or a lack of dedication.

These include absenteeism, sudden slumps in performance, an inability to make decisions or a ‘don’t care’ attitude.

Take Action

If you are feeling overwhelmed and have identified your work life as an obstacle towards general happiness, it is vital that swift action is taken.

Similarly, managerial executives who recognise a staff member as feeling stressed or burnt out should turn to formal HR procedures to rectify the situation. These may include Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), which are designed to reduce employee turnover and absenteeism whilst boosting morale.

If you are unsure of whether your organisation has an EAP in place, establish contact with Human Resources to determine the way forward.

Studies also show that employees struggling to strike a healthy work/life balance often respond well to flexibility. According to a recently conducted CTrip survey, staff members who were given permission to work from home were both happier and more industrious.

“CTrip’s home workers were more productive. An analysis showed they answered more calls and worked more hours because they took shorter breaks and used less sick leave. The home workers also reported being happier than the office workers, and fewer of them quit.”

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