Find out why employees are having a hard time handling home and at-work responsibilities
The list of negative effects work-life balance issues can produce is anything but short — more than half of millennials and baby boomers, for instance, have missed important life events because of work, according to research from platform provider Workfront.
Work-life balance being off-kilter can also result in sleep loss and other health problems. A University of British Columbia study found checking email frequently can increase stress levels.
Unfortunately, though, employee work-life balance has become a growing concern. More employees are struggling to stabilize the time they spend in and outside of the office than just three years ago, according to FlexJobs research.
While some of the reasons can be workplace-specific, employees generally face a few common work-life balance risks — a number of which employers can often help negate.
Proactively addressing the following elements, which can cause workers to have to unexpectedly adjust their schedule, can help companies keep engagement and productivity high:
Contacting employees outside of work
Email, mobile devices and other tech advancements have helped workers complete tasks faster — but have also made them accessible at essentially all times outside of the office. So it’s no surprise employees identified constantly working beyond standard business hours, phones and other employer-issued devices that can’t be turned off and nonstop emails as three of the top 10 elements that can negatively influence work-life balance in a Workfront survey. One in five employees spends more than 20 hours working outside of the office during their personal time each week, according to WorkplaceTrends.com and CareerArch research.
Establishing — and enforcing — a communications policy that clearly stipulates the company’s guidelines on contacting employees outside of work can help ensure they have time to disengage from the workday, providing a better employee experience and possibly boosting retention and offering other long-term results.
Sixty percent of employees believe a difficult boss — one who is demanding, overbearing and/or mean — can have the most negative impact on employee work-life balance, according to Workfront.
The good news is there doesn’t seem to be an overwhelming amount of difficult bosses out there: Two years after that survey was conducted, Robert Half Management Resources research found nine in 10 workers said their manager was very or somewhat supportive of their efforts to achieve work-life balance; and 74 percent felt their boss set a good — or even excellent — example.
In a survey conducted by educational platform provider Driving-Tests, nearly 70 percent of women and 67 percent of men in busy cities said they had sacrificed their free time due to their commute. Sixty-six percent of women and 57 percent of men said they’d lost out on sleep, and more than half of men and women had missed out on family time.
Worldwide, two out of five professionals consider the daily commute to be the worst part of their day, according to a 2019 IWG survey; as a result, 75 percent of businesses report they’re introducing flexible work options to reduce commuting time. Many employees, according to a 2018 FlexJobs survey, think it could help; commute stress was ranked fourth in a list of the reasons employees seek flexible work. Work-life balance earned the top spot.
For more on how to promote work-life balance in the workplace, view our blog posts on what employers can do to start fulfilling the work-life balance promise; why you may need to start urging employees to use their allotted time off; supporting work-life balance for new parents; how companies can help employees manage their caregiving and work responsibilities and reduce workplace stress — and additional ideas to improve work-life balance for employees.