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This article has been written by Jason Jackson, Sport Nutritionist and Scientific Advisor at Sons
Today marks the start of Work-Life Balance Week.
The International Journal of Public Sector Management reported that working from home triggered more pronounced work-related fatigue than working in the office. The overlap between private life and work leads to a significant "contamination" of personal concerns and work duties (Palumbo, 2020). This conflict has a detrimental effect on work-life balance and job satisfaction.
HR departments the world over have traditionally thought of achieving work-life balance by focusing on the work-family conflict. But a study published last year reported that health was as fundamental in the work-life dynamic as the family. And in many cases, more so (Gragnano et al., 2020).
According to a poll of 318 predominantly full-time employees in northern Italy, time invested in health and family was considered 25% more valuable than other life pursuits such as socialising with friends or participating in leisure activities (Gragnano et al., 2020).
The upbeat titled Journal of Happiness Studies describes the negative spillover threefold; time, strain or behaviour-based conflict (Sirgy et al., 2020).
Time-based conflict happens when the demands of one domain compete with time needed to complete the tasks in another, childcare being a good example.
Strain-based conflict occurs when work stress and negative emotions are transferred to the family environment and vice versa (Lawson et al., 2013).
Behaviour-based conflict occurs when behaviours developed in one domain are incompatible with role demands in another, and the individual cannot adjust when switching between environments.
Notably, negative spillover from work to the family has a more detrimental impact on life satisfaction than negative spillover from family to work (Kossek and Ozeki 1998).
Personality traits such as optimism, conscientiousness, and agreeableness are predictive of coping skills (O'Brien and DeLongis 1996). Carver and colleagues suggest positive reinterpretation, planning strategies, and active coping (1989). Essentially, we need to put a positive spin on our situation, identify the problem(s) and take direct action to reset the work-life/health balance.
Reject the "lunch at your desk" culture. Invest your lunchtime into your physical wellbeing (rather than attempting to impress your boss with your work ethic). This may be as simple as leaving the office and going for a short walk around the block.
Question whether late-night, weekend or holiday contact is critical. Consider your own work etiquette. Can you draft emails and send them at a more appropriate moment so as not to intrude on your colleagues' personal lives?