It goes without saying that this past 2 years has put enormous strain on people’s wellbeing, physical and emotional. There’s been a huge sense of loss, be it loosing people due to COVID-19, loss in terms of what we planned and set out to achieve, or loss of business. In addition, there’s been a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the workspace, with restrictions being enforced and lifted time and again, and the notion of things now returning to somewhat normal. Most people are experiencing pandemic fatigue, which is a feeling of exhaustion and demoralisation that comes from living within the pandemic and how that impacts all aspects of our lives. For some, they feel stripped of all motivation and passion, for others their health is taking its toll, where they’re feeling lethargic and no energy to perform.
Underlying this unstable period, employees are feeling even more overworked, stretched to capacity, often feel undervalued and this has the potential to spiral downwards rapidly and drastically affect physical and mental health, especially while some are still working from home, others hybrid working and others returned to work as normal. Employees are continuing to go above and beyond to hold onto their jobs while uncertainties still exist and many roles are morphing to suit the current times.
Fortunately, there has been a lot more emphasis put on introducing initiatives for both employee and employer wellbeing within businesses and making it a more approachable topic, where employees are not terrified for opening up in fear of judgement and the fear of how it could affect their jobs.
Is a work-life balance possible?
A work-life balance seems to be the euphoric end goal of all businesses and employees. It’s something which everyone aims to achieve, yet often falls short due to the stressful demands of work, the long hours, always being connected and the digital era we find ourselves a part of. This loose term refers to how employees distribute their time between their personal and professional obligations and often means something different to everyone.
The golden question remains, can one truly and fully switch off from the corporate mindset, and leapfrog into the personal once? Or are the two too intertwined, especially with the potential to be connected 24/7? Employees are constantly striving to achieve a healthy balance, and often struggle when they cannot fully attain it. Encouraging employees to take time out during the day, be it multiple coffee breaks or a proper lunch hour, and not bombarding them with emails, deadlines and requests over the weekend and in the evening will cultivate a feeling of compassion and confidence, that in turn will allow employees to feel at ease and not guilty for asking for ensuring their wellbeing is on track.
It’s so hard to find the balance when you’re so bogged down trying to work, got deadlines and emails are popping up constantly, but ultimately, it’s all about prioritisation and making a mindful and concerted effort. Achieving this desired work-life balance requires planning, efficient time management and the right communication tools.
Below are some ways to help create that sense of balance.
Set boundaries at work
We all know how difficult it is to set realistic boundaries at work, especially if you’re looking to impress. However, there is often a sense of confusion between the desire to show how motivated an employee is with the need to continually having to say yes. Clear boundaries will also set expectations of what an employee can and cannot handle. For example, if an email comes in at 10PM, is it business critical to show you’re online and reply, or can it wait until first thing the following morning?
Prioritise your health
Overworking is putting you at risk by potentially affecting your overall health. In fact, if you’re sacrificing too much of your time for the sake of work, it won’t take long to start feeling the consequences – whether it’s through increased stress, constant bouts of illnesses due to a weakened immune system, or non-stop exhaustion. That doesn’t mean you have to stop working hard though. Many professions require a lot of time and effort, and sometimes large amounts of downtime just isn’t possible if you’re determined to do well. But it’s all about finding that balance. By recognising your own individual triggers and understanding when you’re overdoing it, you’ll be able to recognise the early warning signs before you start burning out.
One’s physical, mental and emotional health should be at the top of the agenda. Ensuring good health doesn’t need to consist of radical activities, but can include daily meditations or exercise. Overworking and having no balance is counter-productive and will lead to burn out. A healthy employee will miss less work, will be more productive and proactive and will feel more cared for long-term. If going to an appointment or a personal session of some sort, schedule that time in your calendar. Remember, there is a life outside of work which if balanced correctly, will lead to the optimum happy place of work-life.
Transitional time to unwind
Everyday try creating a small buffer of space and time between your working hours and your relaxation time. Ever contemplated your journey to and from work be it walking, driving or on a train? It’s time to stop and think, to mentally prepare and plan what’s to come. You’re automatically forced to have this ‘white space’ when having two distinct locations. This scheduled transitional time is a great time to debrief and decompress. By doing this you can achieve a more balanced work-life medium where you’re aware of the distinction between the two.
Go off the grid in the evening
This is easier said than done, especially as we’re living in an always connected, fast paced digital world where we never turn off. It’s so important to step off the grid and turn off all digital devices and have some downtime to differentiate between your personal and professional duties.
Schedule on and off times in your diary
And finally, a great tip to achieving this work-life balance is to create and stick to a schedule. This way your colleagues and managers will know which hours you’re reachable and when you’re logged off to do personal matters. By ensuring you do have that down time, will allow you to recharge your batteries, so to speak, as well as be productive during your working hours. Block out times in your diary when you’re not at your laptop or desk, so your team know not to disturb you, the exact same when you’re on a lunch break when working from the office.
How Protectus can help
As something that you might be yet to consider, there are a whole host of ways that health insurance can ensure your team are well-balanced and healthy. From company health insurance to employee assistance programmes, there’s something for every team. Company health insurance is a great way to keep your staff motivated, especially if they’re feeling ill, needing to see a doctor or even get some investigative tests done.
Not only will this show your team how much you care for and value them, but it will also hand them access to top medical treatment as and when they need so they spend less time off work and more time doing what they enjoy. You’ll also find that many workplace health insurance policies encourage an active lifestyle, part of this work-life balance, acting as a great way to get your workforce motivated and involved in an active lifestyle to care of their health.
Alongside health insurance, as an employer, you can offer your team access to an employee assistance programme. An employee assistance programme, or EAP, will cover any problems your team may have, both in and out of the workplace, such as alcohol and substance abuse, bereavement, marital issues, mental health and work-related issues.