Why Organizations must Encourage Work Life Balance and Why Professionals must Embrace it ?

In our always on and uber networked age where 24/7 modes of working and being “on call” are the norm, it is indeed the case that unless working professionals learn to actualize a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives, there would be many consequences in terms of health, quality of personal relationships, and an overall tendency to “be always harried” and “always busy”.

Taking the first aspect, unless professionals learn to relax and enjoy the pleasures of life whenever possible, it is quite certain that excessive work or overworking would take a toll on their health. There are innumerable studies and books which present scientific research about the negative effects of overwork in terms of stress and strain on one’s body resulting in poor health and frequent sickness. Indeed, there are many authors and life coaches who point to the symptoms of sleep deprivation, high blood pressure, obesity, and an overall tendency to feel stressed out frequently all of which point to the negative impacts of overwork on health.

Apart from this, it is not only overwork that causes ill health but also the “pressure” of being connected and always on that adds to stress levels. Indeed, there are many professionals who check mails on their Smartphones and other devices frequently and to the extent where the first thing they do after waking up is to log into their emails. This also goes on till the time they sleep and the last thing they do before going to bed is to check emails again. There are some extreme cases of professionals who keep their Smartphones on Data Mode throughout the night so that they can check emails from time to time.

An anecdotal example which we heard is about a professional who gets up in the morning and when brushing his teeth, he holds his Smartphone in one hand to check emails. While this might be a case of extreme connectedness, we cannot just dismiss this as an exception since most of you who are reading this article do one or more of the things that we talked about in the last paragraph. As any medical professional would attest, this not only leads to loss of focus and attention to one’s health but would also result in a “scatterbrained approach” wherein the knock on effects on work also manifest since once we lose focus, it is hard to regain the momentum.

Then there are cases of professionals who take calls from their bosses, co-workers, and from those who report to them at all times of the day on a 24/7 basis. For instance, it is common for middle level and especially senior level managers to inform their subordinates to escalate serious issues before they reach the higher ups. Indeed, the fact that most middle and senior level managers would like to be “in the loop” about urgent incidents and events before the executives get to know means that most of these professionals instruct their team members to not to hesitate when escalating issues to them at any time of the day.

Indeed, there are many organizations such as Banks and Financial Services firms where the managers “dread” the possibility of being called about a market event or a happening by their bosses without them (the managers) not getting to know first. This type of behaviour is indeed rampant in other firms as well especially in the Support Services firms including Production Support in IT (Information Technology) firms, Customer Service, Front Desk, and Call Centres. In our careers, we have worked in organizations where this was the norm and the rule.

While this might make sense from an organizational perspective, the decision makers must realize that taking this too far would ultimately hurt the organizations since always on professionals would mean higher chances of burnout and dropouts which can impact the prospects of such organizations.

Taking a slightly cynical view (which is not out of place going by current trends), it is also the case that such organizations might have to incur more costs on their employees health and wellbeing and hence, such frequent being in the loop email checking and taking and responding to calls would ultimately lead to all round losses both monetary and nonmonetary. The point here is that healthy work-life balance makes sense from a purely financial perspective as well since there are numerous studies that show how sick days and spending on healthcare adds to the costs for the organizations.

Turning to the instances of professionals putting in 12 hours and 14 hours workdays, it must be mentioned that by now, this has become the norm in almost all high-performance organizations and firms and hence, this is again something that can have adverse consequences for everyone. Moreover, considering the high burnout rates in Investment Banks, among Medical Professionals, among highly paid media figures, and even in IT firms, maybe it is time organizations encouraged the actualization of a healthy work-life balance, and professionals embrace the same for longer term benefits.

For those of you, who are still students, imagine yourself in such situations once you start your careers. Now think of the all nighters that you did before exams. Combining the two, visualize how it would be if you were doing something similar to all nighters continuously and all throughout the year. While it is not our intention to discourage ambition, it must also be noted that while healthy work must be encouraged, we leave it to the individual discretion of our readers to think about how they can actualize a healthy work life balance and at the same time pursue their dreams and follow their ambitions.


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