Work-Life Balance – What, who and how?
Work-life balance (abbreviation: WLB) is a compound term that some may be familiar with. One has read it, the other has talked about it, but what exactly is meant by it? Does only the employee have something to do with it or perhaps also the employer? Could a companie be a support for employees in terms of WLB or even the other way around?
If you are aware of what a work-life balance entails, then feel free to skip the next section and continue with ” The WLB model by Michael Kastner”. This will save you time that you can invest in one of your other personal or professional weights. Otherwise, we will now go into a bit more detail about the term work-life balance.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance refers to the harmony between the working life and the private life of a working person. Basically, it means that your private life and your work life are in equilibrium or, in other words, that these two areas do not get in each other’s way and at the same time function well together.
In this context, you can’t casually say that it works better in the long run just because you reduce your working hours, for example. It is important to know that it is up to each individual to determine which work-life balance suits him or her best. Once you have found out for yourself what conditions and circumstances will allow you to keep your work-life balance, this should also be consistent with your chosen profession and company.
The WLB Model by Michael Kastner
When researching work-life balance models, several models can be found which are associated with this topic. From the scale, which can represent balance very well, to the balance model by Nossrat Peseschkian (neurologist, 1933-2010).
However, the Work-Life Balance seesaw by Michael Kastner is most applicable because it illustrates the complexity of a healthy WLB. It makes visible that balancing all factors is a balancing act, which on the one hand should not be underestimated and on the other hand is more complex than you might read in a blog article. If you’re not familiar with the model, you can check it out here: Work Life Balance: key aspects of research (page 4. Figure 2, Michael Kastner, University of Dortmund and IAPAM Herdecke).
If you imagine that a spring breaks, the seesaw tilts.
If you imagine that the load on one side becomes too light, the spring jumps.
… You can continue this mental game with all aspects of the seesaw, and you will find that any too much or too little can cause the entire structure to topple over.
Who is responsible for ensuring that the WLB is in harmony?
On the one hand, it is the employees themselves who should ensure a pleasant climate in their lives. The employee can take care of his or her own hobbies, balanced diet, good sleep, meeting friends, time for oneself, family, etc. As we know, part of life is also professional life. For this reason, it is important that companies give employees room for balance, which in turn benefits the company.
An employee will not work long or effectively in a company if that employee cannot balance work and personal life. A good company will make sure that employees are given opportunities to link all areas together like a cogwheel, so that this has a positive effect on the company and on their private life.
In companies, it is often the task of HR management to deal with this issue. After all, this is management, which very often acts as culture management, i.e., between ” regular employees” and management (executives, etc.).
How can a company promote the work-life balance of its employees?
Promoting the work-life balance is an act that should take place in teamwork, but nevertheless, also individually. There are steps taken that add value to the whole team, but if you now have an individual in front of you who stands out from the crowd, he also needs a special promotion. With the following tips, there will certainly be one or the other, which you can implement or offer for you or your company:
- Flextime, with or without core working hours
- Shift work
- Individual employment contracts (hourly related)
- Working from home
- Work at company location
- Alternation between working from home & working at company location
- Reduction of disruptive factors at the workplace
- Job sharing (sharing of tasks or even double occupancy of some positions)
- Work routines
- Team meetings
- Health promotions such as fitness days
- Team events
- Offers for reintegration after e.g., parental leave, illness
- Clarification of disputes between employees
- Flowers at the workplace
- Specifying times when an employee does not have to be available
- Addressing under- or overwork in a targeted manner
- Failure plan of each employee, for cases of illness, vacation, etc.
- Communicate company successes
- Implement anonymous surveys to employees and its evaluations when needed
- Choose central location for the company
As you can see, the list is long and can be continued. There are those who are allergic to being contacted by work colleagues after work, but there are also people who are just waiting for the bus in their free time, consciously check their e-mails and like to do so. Thus, each person has his own way and who is satisfied with his life, it is also reflected in the company.