Work-life balance - getting it right

Work-life balance - getting it right!

 

Working for myself now, I seem to be working more hours than ever, which is quite a contrast to what appears as a bad dose of whinging from many in work. My friend Para Mullan, who's organising a session at the Battle of Ideas this year writes the following intro to her session:

 

The latest news on swine flu is that employees are using it as an excuse to take Mondays off. First Care, the consultancy that manages sickness-related absences from the workplace said that 43% of all calls each week for all causes take place on a Monday. Aaron Frost, chief executive says: ’The only natural conclusion is that people are using the service as a reason to take time off work.’


 
We should not be particularly surprised that this happens. For quite some time now, work has been pilloried. Before the recession set in, very few articles were written about the positives of work. Rather, endless surveys are carried out at workplaces inquiring about the state of health of employees. Questions such as ‘are they happy at work?’, ‘are they stressed?’, ‘are they bullied at work?’ are not uncommon in these surveys. One could therefore be forgiven if employees conclude that there is no harm in taking an extra day off from the working week. After all, they are only actioning what’s implicit in these work-place surveys – the message being an employee should really think more about re-addressing their one-sided ‘work-life balance’.


 
Now don’t get me wrong. It is not that employees should not enjoy thinking about their leisure time. We all look forward to our weekends. No one would particularly find an argument with the old saying that ‘all work and no play’ is bad for you. The majority of us do take breaks. Yet if you read the literature around work, you can be forgiven for thinking that most British workers spend all their time at work and as a result are becoming unhealthy, stressed out individuals.


 
If we want a more balanced state of affairs where employees aren’t encouraged to skive, we should challenge the sentiment that work is a problem and give the current debate on work-life balance a lot more critical thought.

 

Simon Belt

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