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The Pursuit Of Work-Life Balance

Today’s working professionals have more on their plates than perhaps any other generation of workers in recent history. Despite all the technological and societal advances of the past few decades, workers now face more personal financial burdens than those who came before them.

The combination of student loan debt and a rising cost of living means that it takes longer and longer for a working professional to become financially solvent than in previous generations, leaving them feeling stressed and anxious about their personal financial outlook. As one researcher from the Pew Charitable Trusts stated, “even families with relatively high income are walking a financial tightrope.” Simply put, working more, or harder, or longer is no longer enough to feel financially secure.

Adding to the pressures today’s workforce faces are increasing familial obligations, particularly the strain of caring for both aging parents and an increasing number of adult children who still live at home. In addition, the number of families with two working parents has increased dramatically over the last 40 years, with the result that more than half of all American families now have two working parents. With all these added burdens, it’s no wonder that work-life balance has become a major topic of conversation over the past few years.

Work-life balance by the numbers:

  • 67 percent of HR professionals surveyed believe their employees have a achieved a work-life balance, while only 45 percent of employees surveyed feel that they actually have enough time each week to manage their personal and professional responsibilities.
  • 75 percent of employees say that workplace flexibility is the most important benefit they want from their employer, while only half of employers surveyed thought that flexibility was the most important benefit to employees.
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[WorkplaceTrends.com]

So what does all of this mean for employers?

The fact that nearly half of the American workforce reports feeling consistently overworked should be a big red flag for employers. Employees who feel overworked are much more likely to feel more stressed than employees who feel more balanced. The mental and physical symptoms of workplace stress are well documented: loss of energy, overactive emotions, anxiety, low-functioning immune system, etc.

Prolonged periods of workplace stress can eventually cause employees to develop employee burnout syndrome. Employee burnout is associated with significant drains on employer resources because it is often linked to higher rates of absenteeism, reduced productivity levels, increased employee turnover rates and increased employee benefits costs.

Employers who choose to implement programs and policies that help employees find a work-life balance, however, are able to greatly reduce these costs, and even see higher rates of employee engagement and overall improvements in business performance. Flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work from home or adjust their work schedule as needed, for example, have been proven to be incredibly popular among employees. Offering paid sick leave has also been proven to help reduce workplace stress, as they allow employees to take the time they need to recover from illnesses or care for a sick child or parent without sacrificing their wages.

Want to learn more about the work-life balance?

Make sure to check out the recap of our recent webinar, “Helping Employees Find A Work-Life Balance,” presented by Anu Mannathikuhiyil, PHR. Click here to watch the recorded webinar.

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