Why A Good Work-Life Balance is So Important

"Work-life balance" is a phrase that we've all heard plenty of times. But, is it a myth? Does it exist? Is there a way to incorporate this into our daily lives without sacrificing one over the other? The answers will vary, and ultimately, it's going to be different for every person and will fluctuate massively depending on which company you work with. In fact, the last year included a large transition of employees to remote work or hybrid work, which raises even more questions surrounding work-life balance. Is it easier to find it when you're working from home, or is it more difficult? "Some of [the best companies for work-life balance] have really great paid-time-off policies, flexible working schedules, good parental leave, sabbaticals, and gym credits," said Amanda Stansell, senior research analyst at Glassdoor.

The number of companies figuring out how to offer workplace flexibility to their employees will likely continue to grow. Many employees have shared that they never want to return to the office full-time. More than 50% of the employees who responded to a recent Slack study said their work-life balance has improved while they worked remotely, and almost three-quarters said they were interested in splitting work time between the office and home. Here, we'll discuss what work-life balance is, go over some of the ways it can affect your productivity levels, and even share some of the most highly-rated professions to achieve work-life balance in your life.

What is Work-Life Balance? 

Work-life balance can be extremely difficult for most people to achieve. Of course, you don't know what to prioritize when it comes to family life, work-life, and all of the other responsibilities we have as typical adults. You want to prioritize your job because you're working hard for that promotion you know you're up for in a few months. But your family and your spouse also need to take priority because they are the most important thing to you. Your family might drive you crazy sometimes, but they want and deserve your time when you're not at work. 

Perhaps you're juggling working from home and home-schooling, and you can't fully explain to your children that they can't have all of your time even when it looks like you're "home" because you need to dedicate some hours to your career. You're not alone. This is a huge struggle for so many working Americans who don't know what "balance" is in many aspects of life, let alone specifically work-life balance.

train your leaders on how to achieve a good work-life balance

How Your Work and Life Balance Affects Productivity

Again, it may feel impossible to know how to balance work and life. Despite all the many resources available for productivity at work, like apps to increase productivity or role-specific apps for jobs like human resources specialists, striking some sort of balance can prove to have a significant impact on both workplace productivity and morale. When employees feel that they have a healthy balance between work and life, they are far more likely to be productive or practicing effective time management while they're in the office (or on the job, if they work remotely.) 

Productivity and Morale Go Hand-in-Hand

It's no secret that high stress levels will severely impact business productivity. Not only does stress reduce energy levels, but it also harms focus and quality of work. But, what does this have to do with work-life balance? Quite simply, when you feel that you have adequate time outside of the office or off the clock to focus on your personal needs and family, you're less likely to feel pressure and stress during working hours. Considering that science has found that happiness leads to leadership success and not the other way around, it goes without saying that a healthy balance between work and life will lead to high productivity levels and a positive bottom-line. For more information on how work-life balance affects productivity, here's an excellent article from Thrive Global that further breaks it down.

Best Work-Life Balance Jobs

You may be wondering what some of the best careers are in terms of work-life balance and flexibility, as well as the ways it can affect one's professional and personal life. We've compiled a list that considers scheduling, daily/weekly hours and compensation for the job done.

  1. Substitute Teacher - Substitute teaching has a very flexible schedule since it is a temporary position where substitutes are able to pick up days as they want. They temporarily take over for teaching positions when a teacher is out sick for a day, a vacation, or even parental leave. Subs can assume teachers' responsibilities in basically any position (math, music, physical education, etc.) since full-time teachers create the plans for them to implement while they're out. The median average salary for a substitute teacher is $15.40 per hour in the United States.
  2. Social Media Manager - While this is a relatively "new" career choice and can certainly be a freelance position rather than a permanent career, social media management allows for working from home or telecommuting. Some may find the freedom to set their own hours the most important indication for a healthy work-life balance. Social media managers can be responsible for many different duties, from advertising to marketing, and ensuring a company's social media is running smoothly and effectively. A social media manager's average salary is around $44,710.
  3. Dental Hygienist - Since about half of the dental hygienists in America work part-time, according to a recent study, this career is ranked highly for work-life balance. Many hygienists work under 40 hours a week, depending on your experience and which dental practice you choose to work for. Many hygienists have flexible schedules and are able to work a few days a week, with good pay (an average salary of $75,204 according to salary.com - dependent largely upon education, experience, years in the field, and hours worked) and benefits.
  4. Massage Therapist - A massage therapist is able to set their own hours and work as much or as little as they want, depending on their experience and where they are renting or owning space for their massage practice, such as a hotel, spa, or salon. While pay is likely to increase with years of experience and positive reviews from customers, the average salary for a massage therapist is around $47,000. This can fluctuate significantly (as much as an annual $30,000 increase) depending on which state their practice is in.
  5. Hairdresser - Similarly to the positions listed above, a hairdresser mostly controls setting their own hours - depending upon where they have a chair rented, seniority in that salon, years of experience and education, etc. They are able to determine their hours of availability and scheduled clients within that time frame. Of course, this may fluctuate often, and there may be exceptions made for long-time clients. A hairdresser earns an average "base" pay of around $20,000 annually, but this position relies heavily on clients' tips to supplement their income.You may notice that many of these professions aren't among the highest-paying but fall largely within the median salary, at least among Americans.

    Achieving a healthy work-life balance does not place a large emphasis on income but rather flexibility and hours worked vs. spending personal time away from work and with family and friends. There are a number of factors to consider if you're wondering how to achieve work-life balance, but certainly among the most important are the flexibility of schedule and hours spent at work vs. your personal life!

  6. Fitness Instructor - Another position that allows you to set your own schedule, with some limitations, a fitness instructor may have to work nights and weekends but can decide which days they are available to teach classes or group workouts. 
  7. Registered Nurse - Certainly one of the most demanding and stressful jobs on the list, an RN can determine which days they are working and potentially set their schedules to work a set amount of hours. They can usually dictate whether they want to spread their hours out over 3, 4, or 5 days - meaning they may get 3-4 days off a week while still working full-time. This may be the perfect set-up to achieve work and life balance, not sacrificing hours but still getting long periods off.
  8. Real-Estate Agent - Agents are able to determine their own schedules since they are technically self-employed. While they do work with an agency, they can work with as many or as few clients as they choose, and often their work can be done outside of an office. Many real estate agents have a great work-life balance because they are able to set what days they work. Depending on what state they work in, the current housing market, etc., they can also make a significant income without putting in as many hours as other more "traditional" careers may demand.
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Training on Achieving Work-Life Balance

Helping your leaders pay attention to and emphasize, a proper work-life balance can have benefits for both your employees AND your company. Greater flexibility can make your company more desirable in potential candidates' eyes and improve your status as an employer of choice. Having leaders who understand, support, and, most importantly, model work-life balance can improve retention rates and overall job satisfaction. The ability to clearly separate personal and professional lives is important for mental well-being and can lead to a lot less stress. Perhaps most significantly, leaders who strive for flexibility and work-life fit can improve productivity and help your company achieve higher goals! 

train your leaders on how to balance work and life

Here's what your leaders will come away with when they complete "Workplace Flexibility and Work-Life Fit" training:

  • An Understanding of Why the Old Idea of Work-Life "Balance" No Longer Works
  • How to Support Employees In their Goals
  • Ideas for Improving Flexibility In the Workplace
  • 11 Great Ways they Can Help Every Team Member Reach their Ideal fit!

If the members of your organization need help improving a poor work-life balance, IRI Consultants is here to support your mission. It can be challenging separating your personal life and professional life, but it doesn't have to be impossible. You can chat with our team of experts to discuss the best way to move forward in your positive employee relations strategy!

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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