With the economy’s downturn, companies have been forced to downsize and had to increase the workload of employees still on payroll. Technology and smart phones have also allowed employees to feel like they can’t “unplug” fully even during after-hours or on their days off. Factors like this are starting to blend people’s work and personal life into one. This issue has become highly noted among HR professionals because improper work-life balance has caused many people to become stressed, increased turn-over, and even caused employee’s work and home-life to suffer.
I have been guilty of working through lunch, taking work home with me over the weekend, late hours at the office, and working on holidays from home- all while being an hourly employee. Understandably, it sometimes is necessary when you have goals to meet, tight deadlines, or in my case, payroll that could not be put off. However, if workers continue this pattern it can start to take its toll on both the individual’s work performance and personal life. So why do we continue to do it?
Here are some of the top reasons employees provided when I asked them:
- Fear that they will be terminated if they do not consistently display above-and-beyond hard work.
- Feel that it is necessary to secure a spot for promotion when these roles are limited.
- Do not want other workers to outshine them and make them seem like a bottom performer.
- Technology and mobile devices make them feel like they need to give an instant response any time a phone call, text, or e-mail comes in.
- They are given extra job duties to fill in for the individuals that were terminated/laid off and feel overwhelmed with work. They work long hours to try feel like they aren’t drowning.
I’ve had some of these similar feelings before in previous jobs. I also have witnessed other people going through this situation. Unfortunately, here are some of the effects that could occur if they keep working like this (I’ve witnessed it or co-workers have told me about it):
- Strain on relationships: family, friends, children, and significant others.
- Stress and depression due to not having time to unwind/relax.
- Stress and depression due to not having time to do things the individual enjoys.
- Anxiety about going to work and how much work will be waiting for them there.
- In extreme cases: substance abuse has occurred to deal with stress.
- In extreme cases: stress has caused individuals to do things that are uncharacteristic and self-destructive.
- Feelings of resentment towards work, co-workers, and managers, which contributed to high absenteeism and turn-over.
- Feelings of being overworked and unable to juggle life’s responsibilities.
- Overwhelming feelings and stress affects work-performance and quality.
Unfortunately, some of these scenarios happen before an employee realizes that the lack of quality work-life balance is affecting them that much. If you are an employee feeling overworked, please review WebMD’s tips on finding a better work-life balance. If you are an HR professional or manager, please be sure to pay attention to this to avoid any of the effects mentioned above. If you would like to find more information on companies that have the best work-life balance, please review the articles by CNN and Glassdoor. Your employees’ well-being is important!