Despite the rapid technological advancements and changes in the work environment, a good work life balance is still a pipe dream for many leaders. According to a survey that was recently carried out by EY, one of the world’s largest audit and assurance firms, about 30% of employees across the world find it difficult to balance their professional and personal lives.
It’s hardly surprising when leaders in the corporate sector still face sluggish wage increments, ever-increasing costs of living and rising pressures at home and at work. Many tend to blame their lack of balance on the work environment and believe it is out of their control, but, your ability to achieve such a balance is, in fact all down to you. Leaders are drivers, they are the force responsible for the achieving of goals and for transformational change; they are often so focused on moving the company forward that they forget that their own wellbeing plays a critical role in their ability to achieve excellent results.
By nature, leaders are fiercely ambitious, once one goal has been accomplished they are envisioning the next. Leaders possess an insatiable yearning for completion and results. They set high targets for themselves and others and are determined to continue to climb the corporate ladder. Leaders are competitive; their objective is to ensure that the organisation shines above their competitors. But whilst all these traits are positive and necessary characteristics for leaders, it’s simply not possible to sustain this drive without taking the occasional break. If you are one those leaders who rarely gives yourself time off, you could potentially be having a very negative impact on your own health and the health of the business.
For those who struggle with balance, here are some tips:
1. Negotiate company policies
Negotiating is what a leader does. Review company policies and introduce flexible working, for example. In this constantly connected world, remote working and collaborating with virtual workers is easier than ever. With the countless methods of digital communication now available to us we can liaise with virtual teams, hold online meetings, collaborate on projects and keep each other updated, a couple of great team online team collaboration tools include Asana and Trello.
2. Be protective of your personal time
The key to establishing an enhanced work life balance is developing the right mindset. You need to view your personal time and your role at home and in life as equally important as your time and role at work. Be protective of your personal time and make it a priority. If you don’t, you’ll be on your way to burnout.
3. Set boundaries
In one respect we are fortunate to have the technology and digital communication methods we have today. However, technology can also be a curse. Being instantly accessible to anyone at any time makes maintaining a good work life balance even harder. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that since you all have smart phones and lap tops, you should all be collaborating on a project at the weekend or at night. Learn to put these items away after a certain time. Remember of course to encourage your employees to do the same; the greater balance they achieve the more productive and engaged they’ll be during work hours. Don’t allow technology to run your life; it’s purpose should be to make things easier not to overwhelm you.
4. Fight the guilt
Don’t allow the guilt to creep in if you miss a colleague’s farewell party. As a leader your job is to prioritise, to make that call; you decide where your loyalty lies: you cannot do it all, you are not a superhero! Learn to say no, stick to your decision and move on.
The benefits of an improved work life balance for leaders are plenty. If you’re healthy and revitalised the business will be too. Work life balance boosts productivity, engagement, morale and innovation. Burnt out teams do not generate the best results and can become resentful. Fatigue and stress significantly affect how well our bodies and brains function. Cultivating a work environment in which work life balance is the norm can increase retention and minimise turnover and absenteeism . It’s not easy for anyone to thrive in unfavourable work conditions and those subjected to such conditions aren’t likely to stick it out for more than two years maximum. Furthermore, work life balance generates a positive work culture and enhances brand perception.
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