Achieving a work-life balance isn’t easy and we all know that, but we also need to realise how achieving one is so important for both our mental and physical health.
A number of employers enforce and glamourise a culture of over-working across several industries in the UK. Often employees believe that being the first one in, and the last one to leave, is the best way to impress your employer. But they also don’t see how stacking up these long days is affecting their mental and physical health.
Focusing specifically on the manufacturing industry (considered one of the most overworked industries in the UK) employees are working up to an average of 46 hours a week.
From an employer’s perspective, it is important to consider that overworking your employees can also immediately affect your business performance. It can result in a high absence level, increased turnover, negative employee reviews, and rising health problems.
So, what is a healthy work-life balance?
A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to everybody, it doesn’t always mean splitting your time 50/50 between work and leisure as that can be impossible at times. A healthy work-life balance means feeling fulfilled and content in both areas of your life.
Here are some examples of what a healthy work-life balance may look like for you…
- Meeting your deadlines at work and still having time for socialising and hobbies in the evening
- Having enough time to sleep properly and eat well
- Leaving work at work and not worrying about it when you are at home
- Being able to make time to get outside for a walk, read a book, or do something you love.
- Being able to manage your time and your thoughts
- Being able to talk to your employer openly about any flexible options
What does a poor work-life balance look like?
- You have no clear boundaries between work and personal life
- You stop caring about looking after yourself
- You are often exhausted from long days at work but do not feel satisfied in what you have achieved
- You are struggling to switch off after work
- You are struggling to sleep
- You often think about work outside of work
- You have a lack of interest and motivation
- You feel like you have to do much to do all the time
- You bring your work home with you
- You don’t know what to prioritise
- You feel like you can’t take any time off work.
How can a poor work-life balance affect your mental and physical health?
The pressure of today’s demanding work culture alongside keeping up with your personal life, exercising, and seeing friends can be a difficult challenge. Switching off from work when at home is key when it comes to achieving a work-life balance and your mental and physical health.
A survey by The Mental Health Foundation found that 1 in 3 people surveyed felt unhappy about the time they had devoted to working and 40% of them were neglecting other aspects of their life because of work.
The results also showed that the more hours that employees spend at work, the more hours outside of work they are likely to spend worrying about it.
The Mental Health Foundation states: “The cumulative effect of increased working hours is having an important effect on the lifestyle of a huge number of people, which is likely to prove damaging to their mental well-being.”
A poor work-life balance can impact your mental health in the following ways...
- Higher chance of depression and anxiety
- Bad moods and short temper
- Feeling overwhelmed
- High levels of stress
- Struggling to enjoy your time away from work
- Losing confidence in yourself
- Emotional exhaustion
- Lack of interest in work or home life
The physical effects of a poor work-life balance...
- You are more likely to consume a higher level of fast food leading to a higher risk of weight problems, diabetes, depression, and heart disease
- You struggle to fit in time to exercise which can result in an increase in the likelihood of developing other heart disease risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
- Working long hours can result in higher alcohol consumption
- Back pain, muscle problems and poor circulation from working long hours in the same position
- Poor sleep resulting in lack of energy
- More likely to get sick due to weaker immune system
- Higher chance of developing tension headaches and migraines
How can you achieve a better work-life balance?
- Manage your time- Give yourself enough time when possible to get things done. Don’t overbook yourself
- Make the effort to switch off from work- unplug from technology, switch off work emails and discuss with your boss their expectations of you when you have finished your working day.
- Care for yourself- relax, refresh and take some time for you.
- Prioritise your health- think about how you can fit exercise into your working week. It doesn’t have to be anything too extreme but maybe even getting up slightly earlier to go for a run, walk on your lunch or attend a yoga class.
- Spend time with loved ones and make memories together
How can employers promote a better work-life balance for their employees?
It is important for employers to also take into account how they can help their employees achieve a better work-life balance. Small changes and open conversations can often help employees struggling or feeling overwhelmed.
Here are some ways you can promote a work-life balance for your employees
- Offer flexible working if available this could be compressing hours, different shifts, flexi-working, part-time, or job-sharing opportunities.
- Monitor workload regularly
- Monitor the amount of overtime your employees are working
- Consider the logistics of a four-day working week
- Regularly ask for employee feedback
- Build a culture of care and trust
- Empower your employees so they feel valued when at work.
How do we promote a work-life balance at Belmont Packaging?
We have changed the way we work and revolutionised the typical working week for everyone within the company, from sales to manufacturing. We did this by operating under a four-day working week which would entitle our employees to every Friday off.
We talked openly to our employees and asked for their opinions first on what they thought about a four-day working week. We wanted to make sure that if we implemented this change that everybody would be on board with it and that it would improve everyone’s work-life balance.
We wanted to make sure that the four-day week opened up opportunities to spend time with loved ones, rest, recover, and for our employees to have a day just for them.
One thing we were certain of is that we didn't want this to impact them negatively such as losing pay or hours worked. That’s why we compressed their regular hours into a four-day week, making sure our employees could still take home the wage they are entitled to and achieve a healthy work-life balance.
We announced that all departments within both Belmont & Boxed-Up will be operating under a four-day working week. However, this is something we have been offering in our Manufacturing department since 2019 and working towards expanding for many years. After a lot of commitment and planning from management, the success of a four-day working week within manufacturing enabled us to be able to offer this to all departments.
The media attention, coverage from national newspapers, tv appearances, and social media engagement we received from this announcement has been overwhelming.
How has the four-day working week improved our employee’s work-life balance?
A big part of this decision has been based on how this will make our employees feel and how it can help them achieve a better work-life balance. Therefore, we were extremely pleased to hear the huge amount of positive feedback.
Our employees told us their work-home life was more balanced, they had more time for loved ones and the quality of time they spent together was better as they were more relaxed. We have employees who previously worked weekends, so now having the opportunity to have Friday-Sunday off was a real privilege to them.
From a business perspective, we have also seen an increase in productivity and overall employee satisfaction.
You can find out more about the perks and benefits we offer our employees by visiting our Vacancies page