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How to achieve work-life balance? Expert tips on making the ‘impossible’ possible

Friday 17 July 2015 by AP Group HR

In today's competitive work environment, work/life balance has become something of the past. Family, friends and hobbies all now come second to work.


However, it is widely recognised that a planned and achievable balance between work and life can contribute to professional success and personal happiness. 


Our experts share their advice on how to achieve a healthy work/life balance. This balance is not only about the time a person spends at work. There are other ways as well by which an employee can harmonize work and personal life in order to ensure greater professional satisfaction, personal development and happier family life.  

 

  1. Put your best foot forward: No matter whether you thoroughly enjoy your job or utterly despise it, producing inadequate and substandard work will not benefit anyone. Your boss hired you to do a job and believed you had the skills to meet to the job requirement.  By delivering poor quality work, you not only disappoint the employer but also fail to appreciate the monetary and professional benefits that the company bestows on you. In addition, poor quality work could lead to poor reviews or even termination of employment. Neither of which is advantageous. On the other hand, producing high quality work can enhance your reputation and benefit your future career prospects.

  2. Unleash your inner creativity: Even though a job description is boring or some of the tasks dull, you owe it to yourself and your employer to bring creativity to the role. Not only can this help enhance your reputation and provide further opportunities, it can also remove boredom and monotony.

  3. Remember 'Honesty is the best policy':  The truth always triumphs in the end. If you see a co-worker lying to avoid a public dressing down, remember he/she may have to face a disciplinary action in the end. So it is important to avoid jumping on that bandwagon.  The truth can also impact in another way. Just because something has been done a certain way before does not make it the best/only solution to the problem. If you don't speak up then you will find the following processes may become detrimental and have a negative impact on your work. Therefore, it can be advantageous to speak up and challenge the ideas of your seniors (only if your solution is plausible) and persuade them to discover new solutions.

  4. Give TLC: If it were your company, you would want a healthy and happy workforce. You would want the equipment maintained and no damage done to anything or anyone. Therefore, it is important to have the same attitude and behaviour at your workplace. An accidental damage to the property can be ignored, however if the damage is done deliberately, it can incur substantial fines and disciplinary action.

  5. Keep Your Integrity: Integrity in every action is an important trait of a successful employee. Be it in the dealings with co-workers or upholding the company's trust and reputation, integrity is crucial for maintaining a healthy work environment. Here is an example to illustrate this point. When you have burned out in a job and reached the end of the road, it is very easy to let things slip. You have a rant about work one night in the pub with your friends, which can rapidly become a regular occurrence. Eventually, this will reflect in your friends' impression of your company. As consultants, we are often met with the line 'my friend worked there and said it was awful'. However, this could be the perfect company/position for your friend. Therefore, it is necessary to adhere to your moral and ethical obligations at all times.  If you're unhappy, you should look for something else and move on, rather than tarnishing the company's reputation with irresponsible and unpleasant comments. Not only does it reflect badly on them, but also on you.

  6. Don't give unearned loyalty: Loyalty is based on Trust and Trust is earned, not bought. Loyalty in the workplace is necessary for strengthening trust and increasing job satisfaction. However, caution should be applied to the company that expects blind loyalty from it's employees, without the extension of trust or incentives in return. If you are being headhunted or made an alternative offer and your current employer counters with something like 'remain loyal to us, we will get there', you are not obliged to stay. You wouldn't stay on a sinking ship through loyalty, would you? If a better opportunity, financial package or more job security is offered, loyalty shouldn't play a factor. At the end of the day, you need to do what is right for yourself and those who depend on you. However, there are many companies who provide their employees with excellent opportunities and grow the person professionally and personally. They have earned the trust and loyalty of the candidate.

  7. Handle moral dilemmas: There may be aspects of the job that are unpleasant and conflict with your personal values. New employees usually face such moral and ethical dilemmas in their initial years. In such a scenario, self-reflection on the complexity of the situation is important before taking any major decision. The best approach would be to have an open discussion with your mentors and colleagues to understand the future prospects of the job, and how these challenges decrease with career progression. However, if you still feel that you are being pushed to do something that you do not want to do, it is wise to step away and find a position that is more in sync with your interests and values. Finding work that drives and motivates you, whilst giving you a high level of enjoyment is essential.

  8. Prioritize your work: The key to a successful work/life balance lies in prioritizing your work. You need to identify the key professional and personal commitments in life, and thereby prioritize them in the order of their importance in your routine. At times professional commitments may demand certain sacrifices; however, this should not become a habit, placing unnecessary stress on your private life.

  9. Don't jeopardise your health: We have all been there. You have picked up the flu from a long and arduous week at work. Over the weekend it starts to take hold and by Monday morning, you are verging on bedridden. If you didn't have that urgent piece of work to do, you would stay at home. Alas, you can't.  You need to go in and get this done. Wednesday comes around and you can't move by midday. You have to admit defeat, after infecting half the office. The flu lays you low for 10 days. Sacrificing your health and general wellbeing can have detrimental effect on your body and work performance. This can lead to longer periods of illness, longer lasting effects and potentially, your quality of work suffering.

  10. Schedule relaxation times, but keep it flexible: Overworking can make you dull, affect work productivity and take a toll on your health. Set aside time for relaxation, however in doing so it is important to have a realistic and flexible approach. Having a predetermined time for relaxation may not work at all times, especially when an urgent project or assignment comes up that clashes with your schedule. If you overwork on some days, make sure to devote extra hours to family and friends or simply relax to balance things out on the whole.