Work Life – Greatest Source of Stress
According to Steve L. Sauter of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the workplace has become the single greatest source of stress. Surprise, surprise – as if you hadn’t already guessed. Fortunately, this is exactly what healthy work life balance can alleviate if executed correctly.
Society has ensured pressure is placed on achieving excellence at our job to a point where we put all other facets of our lives on the back-burner. Unfortunately, this imbalances areas like education, family, and hobbies. Yes, having a job is critical to allowing you to provide for you and your family. However, a 6-figure paycheck will never be able to buy back the lost time with your friends, family, and hobbies that you sacrificed to obtain that level of income.
Stress levels and your health
The primary symptom of work life imbalance is stress. Granted, one needs a job to live comfortably. Though there are still other critical elements of life that have to be addressed: bills, sleep and medical checkups just to name a few. When you start neglecting non-work related responsibilities, the stress that follows is inevitable. Stress manifests itself in both psychological and physiological ways, according to WebMd. An extreme example of a psychological consequence is letting home-life responsibilities pile up to the point that you snap and have a nervous breakdown. A few less extreme examples are irritability, coping skills and difficulty concentrating.
The physiological repercussions are actually very scary. Some examples include cardiovascular disease, a weaker immune system and more. It is much more difficult to undo the damage done physiologically then psychologically in most cases. A prime example is binge eating as a coping mechanism for the stress, which leads to obesity. You can’t just revert back to a healthy weight overnight. A healthy and sustainable weight loss schedule amounts to losing about one pound per week. So if you find yourself 30 pounds overweight, you are looking at over six months of repair work.
Why can’t work be my life?
Of course, work can be your life. There are plenty of happy workaholics that never think twice about what they might be missing out on from a leisure perspective.
However, most people carry two identities in adulthood: a job title and a passion. While that may sound like a gross oversimplification, it really isn’t. As we mature, our jobs evolve to define us, and you can tell a lot about a person based on their job responsibilities. We dedicate 2000+ hours a year to this facet of our lives, so of course you should be proud of what you do. Then there are our passions, which can be anything from family to Ping-Pong to snow skiing, surfing to simply reading. These facets of our lives bring us a different kind of joy while our work gives us a sense of accomplishment. If you can find a healthy theoretical balance between these two, you are on course to be a very happy individual.
Can employers help me find a work life balance?
Management should keep as a prime objective striving to promote work life balance for employees. Although impossible to please everyone, management can still aim to build a company culture with similar values. Have you ever wondered why you continue to hear more and more about “company campuses” – the ones where there are game areas, catered food, gyms and even climbing walls? These campuses encompass elements that the employees use to identify themselves when they’re not on the clock.
You might think this is playing with fire by giving employees such easy access to their hobbies, but it’s not. This significantly reduces employee turnover because people are less likely to leave a job that not only provides money but also easy access to other passions and needs. It also leads to an increase in productivity. Take care of your employees and, in turn, they will take care of your business.
In summary, there are many benefits to finding a work life balance and suppressing work stress. It’s a matter of Human Resources. From the employee’s perspective, it’s a healthier, happier life. From the employer’s viewpoint, it is a more-efficient and motivated workforce. It’s a classic win-win!
Article written by Vaughn Pourchot
Last updated March 10, 2023