Is Your Work-Life Balance in Crisis?

A government study on work-life balance in New Zealand noted that most people got so caught up in the day-to-day details of living that their life got out of balance without them realising it. It found that most people would not seriously address work-life imbalance issues until they were in a crisis situation.

The study noted that most employees felt some reticence raising work-life balance issues with their employer, because New Zealanders have a natural reserve and pride with regard to discussing personal issues. Therefore by the time stress is reported the situation is already critical. Under New Zealand law, employers have an obligation to prevent excessive stress that could cause harm. Prudent employers have work-life balance initiatives permanently in place.

Employees are not the only ones to benefit from these initiatives. The study (2003 NZ Dept of Labour, titled 'Perceptions and Attitudes Towards Work-Life Balance in New Zealand') identified the key benefits to employers of implementation of work-life balance initiatives as:

  • Retention of quality staff
  • Being able to attract quality staff
  • Higher productivity
  • Happier workplaces
  • More motivated staff
  • A closer relationship between staff and management

Bringing in an experienced professional who can teach staff how to release stress and create balance in their lives is essential as employers rarely have the time, resources or expertise.

Amongst other lifestyle changes, a professional will assist in modifying the following behaviours necessary for work/life balance.

  1. Learning to put yourself first. Those who are the most stressed tend to be givers personality wise, and always putting others before themselves. In times of stress it's essential to put yourself first and stop doing so much for other people. Unfortunately this type of person will have had a lifetime of being like this and it can be challenging to change without help. Professionals will look at the subconscious drivers for this behaviour. Those who are under stress and don't make this important life change may get worse.
  2. Learn to say "no". Those who don't generally put themselves first often have the added problem of being unable to say "no". Because of this they will take on more and more workload, whether in their employment or in their personal life. They may feel resentful of this and may feel that they are being manipulated by others, but in actual fact it's usually an inability to set appropriate boundaries, and to enforce them.
  3. Ensure there is something you love or are passionate about in your life. What enjoyment, fun, passion or interest do you have in your life? People who are stressed and trying to simplify their lives often make the mistake of dropping out their hobbies or interests. These are a vital part of our life and time must be made for these. Cut back somewhere else but don't cut back on that which gives you pleasure. If your life does not contain one of these elements add it back in with top priority.
  4. Ensure you have YOU time. It's vital to have time for yourself. Whether you want to spend that time getting exercise, relaxing and doing nothing, or treating yourself to something nice it's essential for a well balanced life.
  5. Add meaning to your life. An essential part of life is feeling that we are making a difference in the world, even if in a small way. We need to have meaning. Ask yourself what difference you make and if you can't find an answer, look to add one. Do a little charity work, contribute a little to your community, do a good deed once a week, give someone the gift of a smile. Whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself.

"Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four Balls - Family, Health, Friends and Spirit, are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same".