The Employer’s Responsibility in Maintaining Employee Work-Life Balance

Written by: Zabrina Way

When it comes to work-life balance, opinions are divided on just how much responsibility the employer has for helping their employees to maintain one. Traditionally, the employers would be one of the demands in their employees’ lives, trying to get as much work out of them as possible, but now that they are growing aware of the physical and mental health effects of overwork, many employers have begun to realize that encouraging healthiness pays off for them in the long run.

An appropriate work-life balance for an employee means that he is at less risk for many serious health conditions that result from overwork and stress. Overworked employees tend to suffer from heart attacks, strokes, and many other conditions from the life-threatening ones to the mere inconveniences. They also tend to have major issues in their social or family lives due to the stress and over-long work hours. Family and friends resent being “second fiddle” to the employee’s workplace, and some employees who take workaholism to the extreme find themselves in a string of failed relationships with various significant others. This will inevitably impact their work life sooner or later, even if their health remains fine.

The flip side, of course, is those employees whose work-life balance is skewed too far will take too much time off work, not contribute anything productive, and never be reliable. Most offices have some of these individuals who work themselves far too little. Obviously, an employer wants to prevent this situation just as much as the problem with overworked employees!

One note: don’t confuse those who spend little time at work but accomplish much with those who don’t accomplish anything. It’s better to encourage an employee to spend four hours working from home and solve twice as many problems as trapping them in the office for eight hours, where their productivity will decrease. Creative solutions may work better than brute force in many cases!

An employer can offer workshops and information to employees about work-life balance, but cannot force them to apply it to their own situation. A true workaholic may need extra help and counselling to overcome their work addiction, but most other employees may be interested in this information. An employer can also offer flexible hours, compressed work weeks, telecommuting, and other options to help their employees maintain this balance.

If you aren’t sure how your employer treats work-life balance, chat with your human resources professional and ask what kind of support and accommodations they have for employees who wish to live healthy, balanced lives.

Sometimes, the employee wants to attain a healthy work-life balance, but their employer refuses to see the downside of working an inordinate number of hours each week. If you are in this situation, you might consider looking for another job if at all possible, or approach different supervisors and discreetly inquire into the policies.

A healthy work-life balance is something every employee and employer should be interested in attaining and helping their workers to attain. The benefits will affect both parties, and employee satisfaction will increase.

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