As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, we will continue with the theme of employee wellbeing for this week’s blog. So, let’s discuss the all-consuming question of the seemingly ethereal ‘work-life balance’; we all strive to achieve it but does it even exist? Have you ever actually felt like you have had a perfect balance between your work and personal life?
Circle In, an employee engagement platform, advocate for work-life ‘harmony’ instead of a perfect, 50/50 balance. The organization recently conducted a study on mothers who were due to go back to work after being on parental leave. A staggering 83% of mothers said balancing work and family was their biggest concern about going back to work, indicating that this internal conflict to achieve a perfect balance is one that many people struggle with.
A study conducted by Time suggests that we categorize our lives in terms of things we ‘love to do’ and ‘loathe to do’, instead of ‘work’ and ‘life’. To put it simply, visualize the activities in your life as individual threads of fabric. Some of these threads – the activities that you find yourself looking forward to before you even start them; the ones that you ignite your flow state; and the activities that make you feel satisfied and energized after you have completed them – are made of a totally unique substance. If all the other activities in your life are black, white, and grey threads, these are your red threads. Research shows that individuals who weave the fabric of their life with at least 20% of these red threads are significantly less likely to experience burnout.
After identifying the activities that we love and loathe doing, Buckingham and Goodall state that “our goal should be to, little by little, week by week, intentionally imbalance all aspects of our work toward the [activities we love] and away from the [activities we loathe]. Not simply to make us feel better, but so that our colleagues, our friends and our family can all benefit from us at our very best.”
Buckingham and Goodall conclude by saying: “We can’t always do only what we love. But we can always find the love in what we do.” And if we can’t find the love in what we do, that evokes a bigger question.
What do you think? Does work-life balance exist?