Is your work life balance suffering?

Work life balance

To compensate for the rising salaries, there’s another aspect that’s been plunging for Indian professionals – the quality of work life. Achieving work life balance in India has become more difficult than ever. What is work life balance? What is causing it to get imbalanced? Does your current job offer it or are you heading rapidly into the burn-out zone? This article tackles questions like these and also has some work life balance tips that your HR team can implement.


Why is your Work Life Balance suffering?

Let’s start off with a short questionnaire to find out if your current job offers you a good work-life balance? If your answer to more than three of the questions below is a ‘Yes’, you might want to take some time off to introspect!

Work life balance questionnaire

  • Do you work for more than 60 hours a week?
  • In addition to your regular work hours (in office), do you work for more than two hours a day from home?
  • Do you have to travel between cities without prior notice more than three times a month? Do you end up losing your weekend in the process?
  • Are you constantly worrying about your work even when at home with your family?
  • Does your boss call up more than twice on weekends and assigns you with additional tasks?
  • Are you able to carve out half an hour each day, in the morning or evenings, just for yourself – to relax, unwind or exercise?
  • Are you finding it hard to sleep owing to stress and burn out?

If this questionnaire was too short and simplistic for you, try you this comprehensive Online Career Guidance tool to get an idea of how you’ve managed your career so far. It covers many more aspects that you should be thinking about.

Your parents and grandparents who spent their entire lifetime working with the same employer until retirement probably never worried about the concept of work life balance.

Though they may have switched jobs once or twice during their career-span, this would equate to spending more than a decade on each job. This was because they had a life beyond office. They were hardly required to work beyond regular work hours.

This trend doesn’t seem to exist any longer, be it a junior or fresher’s post or that of a senior manager. Why is this happening?

Choosing a higher salary over work life balance

Salary is one of the underlying decisive factor. If a new job offers you a salary 1.5 times your current CTC but your workload also increases proportionately, would the offer still be attractive?

Indian companies have started offering competitive salaries, which in several industries are at par with the international standards. But they also expect employees to give in more than their 100%.

What does this imply? Would it mean being available for work 24×7? Would your personal life be reduced to ‘being non-existent’ while your company and your boss take charge of your day’s schedule.

How and where would you draw the line? If you are a fresh graduate, ambitious and completely career-focussed without additional personal responsibilities, you may accept the role with all the challenges, responsibilities and the learning involved.

This is the best time as you’re young, energetic, willing to explore newer territories and various roles. So working overtime, on weekends or extensive travelling may not be an issue. But the question is how long would working in such a role be sustainable?

Technology adversely affecting the quality of work life

With the emphasis on ‘staying connected’, technology has been generous to offer a range of tools and solutions that blur the lines of time and geography.

While this may have its advantages, technology can be a double edged sword with serious implications to your work life balance.

Mobiles, laptops, skype, internet connectivity and virtual private networks (VPN) have entered the scene. Now your clients and your boss are able to reach you beyond work hours and assign you work which is invariably ‘urgent’.

Multinationals are making the work environment more global

Multinationals, BPOs, KPOs have been increasingly entering the Indian market. Though the operational team is based in India, the clients may be based in a completely different geography and time zone.

If you’re required to regularly deal with your international counterparts in another time zone, you’ll end up working during odd hours. By the time you’re back home, your family has already retired for the day.

Competition keeping you on your toes

The work environment has grown highly competitive. If your colleague who has joined in with an additional MBA degree is ready to devote two additional work hours each day, you may think twice about leaving at 6:00 pm.

The insecurity could add tremendous pressure on you to stay back and play the ‘face time’ game. Your personal time gets sacrificed in the name of investing in your career.

The balance that existed earlier, where a person could find time for oneself and family as well as fulfill one’s professional commitments, seems to have gone haywire. The work environment has become more demanding in comparison to what it used to be around two decades back. There is more stress and competition involved as employees are expected to handle multiple projects and achieve various targets or meet tight deadlines.

Work life balance for women

Here are some work life balance quotes by women business leaders.

There’s no such thing as work life balance. There’s work, and there’s life. And there’s no balance.” – Sheryl Sandberg

Having it all means having the same work and family choices that men do. It doesn’t mean having everything you want. No one has that.” – Anne Marie Slaughter

Work life balance for women is a bigger challenge. Women may be more prone to working under pressure resulting from additional responsibilities at home.

There may be other specific issues to tackle like the lack of support from your bosses or co-workers.

Then there’s workplace politics which may be unnecessarily sapping your energy and causing undue stress. This problem that has seeped into the work environment needs to be well-managed and taken care of.

Importance of work life balance

Why is work-life balance so important?

An overworked and stressed out employee would not be able to do complete justice to his role. The work productivity may suffer in spite of the fact that the employee is putting in extra hours each day.

The employer’s unrealistic expectations regarding the effort or the number of hours to be put in each day may lead to the work stretching beyond deadlines, poor output, physical and mental health issues for the staff and disgruntled clients as well as employees.

How can companies / employers contribute to help employees in this area?

Many companies recognise the risk of employee burn out and have launched various initiatives to improve the quality of work life and encourage a healthy work-life balance. This includes wellness programs for stress management like yoga and fitness programs, gym membership package.

Flexibility in terms of timings can be of immense value. There may be someone who has personal responsibilities during the morning hours and wishes to start his/her day an hour or two late and doesn’t mind putting in extra hours after office to compensate for it; if the employer agrees to such an arrangement, it can be a great value addition.

Another form of workplace flexibility is being able to work from home at times. This would also be appreciated by someone desperately in need of time to spend with an ailing parent or a young child.

An employee may be required to take a conference call at 6 pm which would perhaps go on till 9 pm. If she is able to leave early and reach home before 6 pm to take the call, it would surely give that person some breathing space once the call is over.

Maintaining a collaborative and supportive environment as opposed to an overly aggressive or competitive one can make a huge difference in reducing insecurity among employees.

If a healthy work environment is maintained, the bond that the employee shares with the employer is strengthened resulting in better performance, increased focus, job satisfaction and long-term commitment on part of the employee. All this results in a better turnover for the employer.

Have you thought of ways to achieve a better work-life balance? Have you discussed it with your employer? Any interesting work life balance quotes that you’ve read? Do share your story on how your employer has co-operated with you or turned down your request.


Your HR team already knows most of these. In fact, many in their team might be facing similar issues and secretly reading the work life balance ppt stashed on the intranet. But other ‘urgent’ matters (as dictated by the senior management) have kept them busy. So share this post with them anyway.

They don’t want too many of their prized employees to take inspiration from this guy who left the corporate world to find solace elsewhere.

If more folks start sharing work life balance articles like this one, maybe they’ll get the hint and make some positive change in your company.

Looking for personalised 1-on-1 advice to get a better grip on your career? You might be interested in checking out our career counselling service.


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Swati //
Swati

After working for over a decade in technical and managerial roles in the corporate world, Swati now works as a freelancer and writes on a variety of topics including education, career guidance and self-improvement.

3 Comments

  1. Oracle says:

    I liked the picture of this man carrying his life and work on his shoulders. What is more remarkable, however, is that he has chosen to keep his “life” (son) ahead of work (drum).

  2. Sameer Kamat says:

    Trust the Oracle to look beyond the obvious and come up with philosophical insights :-)

    I wasn’t sure if anyone would read into the picture and view it in conjunction with the article. Good to see that you did.

  3. Dianna Labrien says:

    Now, I can say that not only corporate professionals suffer from the lack of proper life/work balance. I have been working freelance for two years and the first year literary sucked – all work, no play. I was balancing three projects at a time and couldn’t say no to new clients as I was pretty unsure if there’s going to be the same workload (and the same paycheck) next month to keep me on flow. No paid overtime, no sick days or paid vacation. I nearly gave up and was thinking to go back to my dull 9-to-5 job…yet eventually I got a great pool of long-term clients and managed to maintain a steady cash flow with some saving for low month. Now, my main issue is to learn to disconnect and sort out my work schedule more effectively :)

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