Achieving the perfect balance between work and your personal life isn’t easy, no matter how good your work situation may be. But in these times especially, work-life balance truly has never been more important for our mental health and well-being. Being caught up in your job can really impact how you’re able to function outside of work and can be especially challenging amid the pandemic and in the post-pandemic world.
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Exploring A Good Work-Life Balance
In a new study, Skynova explored the balance between work and life from the employee perspective – asking them what they think contributes to a good work-life balance, whether their employer contributes to and prioritizes that balance, and how the pandemic has impacted it.
A healthy work-life balance is different for everyone, and the 1,010 respondents of the Skynova survey certainly had varying definitions of that balance when it comes to the specifics of what it looks like. Overall, 87.5% of respondents said they felt it was important to have a work-life balance, and, encouragingly, 83.6% said they believe they already have one. What does that balance look like, especially when broken down by generation?
Over 59% said a work-life balance meant having ample time for family (66.7% of baby boomers, 61% of Gen Z, and 58.7% of millennials); 56% said it meant having the ability to take vacations (48.1% of baby boomers, 58.2% of Gen Z, and 56.3% of millennials); and 53.4% said it meant having a flexible work schedule (53.7% of baby boomers, 53.8% of Gen Z, and 54% of millennials).
The least important factor among all respondents in terms of a work-life balance was having no guilt for taking time off (40.6%), which certainly sheds light on people’s attitude toward paid time off. There was a time when many would be concerned about taking time off and feel guilty for using time accrued to step away from work for a week or two for vacation or a break. Nowadays, the concept of having time off is much more embraced by both employees and employers, so people certainly don’t seem to have nearly as much guilt attached.
A Supportive Workplace
When it comes to whether an employee feels that their job supports a healthy work-life balance, more respondents said they felt their workplace was supportive (45.4%) than unsupportive (24.7%). And overall, 47.7% of respondents said they’d be willing to take a pay cut in order to support a better work-life balance (an average pay cut of 12%). Millennials seemed the most willing to take a cut in order to support their work-life balance (49.4%), followed by baby boomers (42.6%) and Gen Z (42.1%).
Interestingly, 51.9% of respondents said they sought out a flexible schedule when searching for their current job, and 44.1% said they specifically sought out generous vacation time. Nearly 41% said they sought out the opportunity to work remotely – something that is becoming a bigger priority for job seekers due in part to the pandemic but also because it has been shown to contribute to a healthy work-life balance.
Does a better work-life balance improve your job performance and productivity? The respondents in the Skynova survey certainly think so. Sixty-two percent of those surveyed who had a good work-life balance said their job performance was very good, while 48.8% citing a bad work-life balance said they were performing well at work. Almost 61% of respondents with a good work-life balance said their productivity was very good, while only 43.3% with a poor work-life balance could say the same.
Impact Of The Pandemic
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the game in terms of people’s work-life balance? Among respondents, who were asked to compare their current and pre-pandemic work-life balance, 21.1% felt their current balance was excellent, and 17.3% said the same about their pre-pandemic balance. Slightly under 38% said their current work-life balance was very good, and 32.9% said the same of their balance prior to the pandemic. Just 6.6% claimed their pre-pandemic work-life balance was poor, while 3.6% felt their current balance was poor.
What specific things did respondents do to contribute to their work-life balance? Approximately 53% said that one big contributing factor was scheduling personal events ahead of time, while 52.7% said they achieve their work-life balance by starting the day early so they can end early and have more time for their personal life. Just under half of respondents said they achieve their work-life balance by limiting the amount they work late at night or during off hours.
No matter what you do to achieve a good balance between your professional and personal life, there’s no doubt that it’s crucial to mental health and stability to find a situation that works for you and makes you feel like you have enough time to devote to both. Especially in the world we’re living in now, it’s never been more important to feel you’re not being overworked and that you have enough time in the day to do the things that bring you joy.
About the Author
Sean Kelly is a freelance writer and editor specializing in work and career topics.