Everyone needs a natural balance of work and life. This balance is defined by the satisfaction of the individual regarding their work and family roles, when they can devote enough time to their tasks.
If work is regularly prioritized at the cost of private life, or the other way around: managing personal life consumes too much energy that might jeopardize the career, and physical and mental health.
Establishing work-life balance is especially problematic concerning women, since usually they are the ones doing the lion’s share of family chores, bringing up children and nursing sick family members. However, recently, there has been a notable shift in men’s role in Hungary as well: though their biggest role is still being the breadwinner of the family, they have been expected to actively participate in bringing up children and managing everyday logistics, too.
Establishing work-life balance
Studies have shown that employees with flexible working hours perform better at their workplaces compared to those who are motivated by extra money or other, non-monetary allowances (swimming passes, travel cheques, etc.). Another important factor is the peaceful, balanced mental state that is founded by spare time activities and by the workplace’s ambiance.
The advantages of work-life balance for the individual:
- improves quality of life, personal well-being, and happiness;
- helps to unfold certain skills;
- encourages the establishment of a family model, where chores are divided equally;
- decreases stress and the risk to develop work-related diseases.
Creating a tolerant workplace with a peaceful atmosphere respecting employees’ personal responsibilities, is also advantageous for the employer:
- attracts workforce, thereby increases the company’s competitiveness;
- decreases HR fluctuation;
- decreases the incidence of sick-leaves;
- motivates employees, thereby generating better efficacy at their work.
Derangement of work-life balance
Stress response is a natural human reaction to challenging or dangerous situations. Low level of stress (e.g., deadline) can be beneficial, since it can boost energy levels and thereby can lead to improved productivity. Long-term or too much stress on the other hand is exhausting both physically and mentally. Chronic stress (lasting for a long time) can also lead to emotional exhaustion which negatively affects work performance and family relations, too.
Derangement of work-life balance is disadvantageous in respect to both the individual (employee) and the employer. It destroys physical and mental health of the individual who might lose their motivation, ending up in “burn-out”. Work-life imbalance results in increased stress at the workplace, which impedes employee engagement and thereby productivity.
Creating work-life balance nationally
Creating work-life balance is a great challenge not only for employees, but also for enterprises and for the whole society. If work responsibilities allow to establish a balance between work and private life, it might encourage employees to engage in starting a family, as well. Establishing work-life balance is a mean of a pro-family political mindset in Hungary, similarly to other European countries.
In June 2019, the European Union Committee accepted the directive on work and private life balance, of which purpose is to ensure that parents and people working in nursing care should not be forced to choose between their family life or career.
The main aim of the directive is to:
- increase women’s proportion in the labour market;
- improve men’s practice of flexible working conditions, thereby increasing their participation in family chores;
- allow employees to go on a leave for practicing nursing-care for their relatives.
Recommendations to improve work-life balance
Manage your time!
Prioritize your tasks and focus on the most important ones. Review your weekly tasks and try to avoid wasting your time (e.g., shop online, minimize commuting, avoid social media, cancel non-important meetings, etc.).
Define your working hours and avoid thinking about work and work-related problems in your free time. Avoid “bringing home” your work, do not read work emails at home, turn off your official mobile and try to leave work-related stress at your workplace.
Devote time to regeneration!
Devote time to regeneration so that you will face difficulties easier. Regeneration is important for success, so devote time to activities that make you relax, read, do exercises, go on a trip, or just rest and “do nothing”.
Every work is tiring and stressful sometimes, but it is easier to handle if you love your job. If you feel bad at your workplace, consider changing it. It is worth to start learning, too, since it keeps your mind fresh, and it might boost your career as well.
Studies have shown that if basic needs are satisfied, higher income does not necessarily lead to happiness. You can live a happy life without a new car or living in a less expensive apartment – your free time activities and experiences will compensate you.
Nurture your relationships!
Good relationships help to cope with stress but establishing and nurturing these connections takes time. Make the time you spend with your family, friends, and loved ones a priority.
Exercise, stay healthy!
Exercising is not only beneficial for the body, but it also refreshes the mind: regular exercises decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. Living a healthy way of life is also important: adequate amount and a good quality of sleep, healthy eating, and avoiding smoking and too much alcohol consumption.