Is Work/Life Balance Even Possible Anymore?

Maggie Kimberl |

When you have the ability to check your work email after hours, is work/life balance even possible anymore? You don’t want to slack off at work, but you also don’t want to push your family and home life to the side. Figuring out how to maintain work/life balance is a skill, and this infographic from Family Living Today outlines how to develop that skill as well as the possible consequences if you don't.

[Call Out: When work is constantly popping up in your head or in your inbox, even on vacation you can feel like you never left the office]

Balancing Work and Life is Hard in the U.S.

  • S. ranks 30th out of 38 countries in work/life balance, in the bottom 20%
    • Netherlands (#1)
      • Employees working 50 hours/week or more: 0.5%
      • Time devoted to leisure and personal care: 15.9 hours/day
    • S. (#30)
      • Employees working 50 hours/week or more: 11.4%
      • Time devoted to leisure and personal care: 14.4 hours/day
    • 66% of full-time employees in the U.S. do not strongly believe they have work/life balance
    • Full-time U.S. workers spend an average of 8.15 hours per day working
      • Men: 8.35 hours
      • Women: 7.84 hours

[Call out: 33% of employed adults in the U.S. work on an average Saturday, Sunday, or holiday]

  • Americans have a lot more to do than just work
    • How does the average American break up the day?
      • Personal care (including sleep): 9.58 hours
      • TV, leisure, sports: 5.13 hours
      • Work and work-related activities: 3.61 hours
      • Household activities: 1.82 hours
      • Purchasing goods and services: 0.76 hours
      • Eating and drinking: 1.17 hours
      • Caring for household members: 0.52 hours
      • Caring for non-household members: 0.21 hours
      • Education: 0.49 hours
      • Civic/religious activities: 0.32 hours
      • Miscellaneous: 0.22 hours
      • Phone calls, email, mail: 0.16 hours

[Call out: Even as our culture shifts toward workplace gender equality and efficient technology, it seems the 40-hour work week just keeps getting longer]

Reasons for Modern Work/Life Imbalance

  • Work environment issues
    • What has the most negative impact on work/life balance?
      • 60% Bad/overbearing bosses
      • 39% Constantly working beyond standard business hours
      • 39% Inflexible work hours/time off scheduling
      • 31% Incompetent coworkers
      • 30% Long commutes
    • 24-hour technology
      • 57% of employees say technology has ruined the modern family dinner because employers expect responses at any hour
        • 40% say it’s okay to answer an urgent work email at the dinner table
      • Changing gender roles
        • Women not just expected to be homemakers anymore―can be thriving professionals
          • On average, still spend more time on…
            • Household activities
              • Women: 2.24 hours
              • Men: 1.38 hours
            • Caring for household members
              • Women: 0.69 hours
              • Men: 0.34 hours
            • Men not just expected to be breadwinners anymore―can be equal partners in housework and child rearing
              • On average, still spend more time on…
                • Work and work-related activities
                  • Men: 4.39 hours
                  • Women: 2.88 hours
                • Sports and leisure
                  • Men: 5.51 hours
                  • Women: 4.77 hours

[Call Out: Are women better balancers? Women are more likely to say they have good work/life balance and less likely to have ever missed important family events for work]

Lose Your Balance, and You Could Fall Hard



  • Consequences of work/life imbalance
    • Short-term
      • Bad work/life balance consequences at home
        • 51% Missed important life events
        • 50% Less time with family and friends
        • 40% Ruined time spent with family/friends (conference calls, called away from activities)
        • 38% Lack of focus/engagement (still thinking about work)
      • Bad work/life balance consequences in the workplace
        • 68% Poor morale
        • 41% Feeling burnt-out/fatigued
        • 41% High turnover
        • 36% Poor productivity
      • Long-term
        • Employees working over 55 hrs/week are at higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
        • Employees working over 55 hrs/week are at higher risk of depression and anxiety than those working 35-40 hrs/week
          • 66X higher risk of depression
          • 74X higher risk of anxiety
        • Employees expected to be available to work in their off-hours leads to higher stress and cortisol levels throughout the day
      • What employers and governments can do
        • Employees say employers should…
          • 69% offer flexible schedules
          • 55% allow remote working
          • 27% offer unlimited paid time off
          • 27% restrict email responses (e.g. can only respond 9-5)
          • 24% establish meeting-free blocks of time
        • Tactics of the top 3 work/life-balanced countries
          • Netherlands
            • One of the shortest workweeks in the world: 4 days/29 hours on average
            • Paid vacations, maternity and paternity leave, and the right to reduce hours to part-time without losing your job
          • Denmark
            • Workers choose when to start the workday and whether to work from home
            • Minimum 5 weeks paid vacation for all workers
          • France
            • Policy encouraging employees to disconnect from work email while off work
            • 25 federally-mandated vacation days every year
          • What you can do
        • Switch off your phone
          • Checking updates and emails from work during your off time interrupts your relaxation and stresses out your body
        • Make time for exercise
          • Exercise boosts energy and concentration, but is usually the first item you scratch off your schedule when you get busy
        • Eliminate the extras
          • If you lose hours a day needlessly scrolling through Facebook, try a productivity software (e.g. Freedom, RescueTime) so you can focus on the important and rewarding parts of life
        • Delegate and outsource
          • Instead of trying to do everything yourself, discuss sharing chores with your spouse or responsibilities with your coworkers

CTA: Find your balance

Sources:
http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/work-lif...
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/atus_062...
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/P...
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/psychologi...
http://time.com/3985027/email-psychology-work-mood...
https://resources.workfront.com/ebooks-whitepapers...
http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2013/07/...
http://denmark.dk/en/meet-the-danes/work-life-bala...
http://time.com/4620759/european-american-work-lif...
https://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahlee/2014/10/20...

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