Employee Health: Work/Life Balance: A 2-Way Street?

Category: Health

by Jude Carter

Work/life balance was a hot topic before the recession, as employers scrambled to offer workers options for greater flexibility. Since then, it’s been much more about survival…companies struggling to stay afloat and workers doing whatever it took to hang onto their jobs. The irony is that given all the pressures of doing more with less, work/life balance is even more critical now.

SHRM reports from a study by StrategyOne that:
· 89% of Americans surveyed say work/life balance is a problem in the US, with 54% saying it’s a significant problem
· 38% of workers say it has worsened since the recession
· 43% say their employers are not doing enough

So, here’s my question: Is this all about the employer serving up options for flexibility and balance, or does the worker have a role in it, too?
It’s no secret that increased pressure on the job leads to stress, which in turn affects the emotional and physical health of the worker. The company suffers from increased absenteeism, loss of productivity and quality and increased health premiums. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to come up with solutions for greater balance.

There’s a parallel here to employee health and wellness programs. Sure the employer can roll out the programs, educate and reward healthy behavior, but in the end it’s the worker who chooses to eat right or exercise…or not. Employers can offer flex hours, job sharing and telecommuting options, but the workers have to commit to recognizing when their life is out of balance and learn how to set healthier boundaries. Whether it’s turning off the technology, making more time for family and friends or just getting more organized, each of us has a part in making our own “balancing act” a priority.


Jude Carter
December 31, 2009

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