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25 / Mar / 15
By Mary Obozua
Author

Mind the Gap!

...the case for optimum well-being...

I was discussing with a friend, the mystery of work-life balance, well-being and how to bridge the gap for a more fulfilled life. I called it a mystery as I’ve found that from further discussions with peers that for most it was far from reality and more something to strive towards.

In his article ‘Overworking is bad for us, especially with Robots waiting in the wings’, Stefan Stern (Management writer and visiting professor at Cass Business School) agrees that as a nation overworking is ‘normal’ thus making well-being and work life balance a problem. He writes,

Some British people are working for far too long, with damage being done to health and family life. We need a rethink… a reassessment of priorities nonetheless. Death by overwork is not a wise option.’ 
(The Guardian, February 24th 2015).

This caused me to look into the data we (Survey Solutions Ltd) have in regards to 2 key questions asked in over 80 employee surveys:

  • My job allows me to have an adequate work / life balance (Q1)
  • I do not feel pressure to work long hours (Q2)

Only 21% of respondents selected ‘agree strongly’ when asked about work life balance (Q1) and only 8% said they absolutely didn’t feel pressured to work long hours (Q2) and backs up my earlier comment on the gap between work-life balance and well-being.

My friend and I both established that we knew people who were in unfortunately dissatisfied with their job, company or both. They had been in their job a number of years and still felt the same, rendering their dissatisfaction as normal. The conclusion of our discussion was that the onus really is with us as individuals to do what we can to bridge the gap between well-being and work-life balance.

Here are some ideas that can be influenced by an individual to help bridge the gap between well-being and work life balance:

Dealing with any feeling of being undervalued- be confident in discussing with line managers any lack of recognition for efforts. Recognition of a job well done from line managers and peers can reinforce contribution to the company’s goal and also reinforces their values. The staff survey can also be used to express views.

Setting personal goals helps with self-motivation and could also make the job more enjoyable.

Opportunities at work- Actively seeking opportunities to demonstrate skills required of the business and discussing career progression with line managers helps to uncover hidden opportunities. This could also increase financial outcome.

Training opportunities- my MD once told me that training budgets needn’t be large as there is so much knowledge within each company that can be shared for free. This can be done by scheduling time with employees, shadowing and also working with a mentor.

Charles Orton-Jones suggests that offering mentoring is a top ten creative way to build a successful team. (Raconteur, ‘Employee Engagement & Benefits’. 24th March, 2015).

Enhancing knowledge- Where there is a lack of skill, taking time out to train and also spending time reading relevant material may also make the job easier and increase the income. Some employers are great at supporting development by providing some sort of bursary or allowing time off for it, especially if it can be proven to benefit the company.

Planning- this involves good time keeping and keeping a daily to-do list. This helps to eliminate time wasting and the stress of forgetting things. ‘Eat that Frog- 21 ways to stop procrastinating’ by Brian Tracy is a good introduction to time management.

Delegate- this is the best way to empower colleagues trying to learn what others do and releases the spirit of teamwork and the burden of an ever increasing work load

Focusing on ourselves- taking the time to find out what we like to do and arrange time to do it. Spending more time with those we care about. Switching off to explore our hobbies and to also find new ones. Giving back and not allowing fear to stop us taking the next step

Benefits at work- a friend once told me that she casually mentioned to her manager that she was booking to see a private doctor, however the cost was astronomical. Her manager then reminded her that private healthcare was part of the company’s standard benefits. Review what the company are offering as a reminder. If none of the benefits assist with well-being, it can be suggested via the employee survey or directly to line managers.

Work less- Consider reduced working hours or requesting flexible working arrangements. It’s a guilt free way to spend time doing what we like to do to. Working less doesn’t always mean income will be less.

Stern went on to conclude that ‘… (for Bhutan)…The pursuit of happiness has replaced the pursuit of accumulating ever more consumer goods’. I believe that should be true for us all wherever we are in the world'.

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