According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a full-time employee works an average of 8.5 hours a weekday. Shocking? Not really. But, this statistic doesn’t include other work-related activities that may occur outside of “traditional” work hours. Sending emails, finalizing projects, and stressing over what’s due the next day are all examples of minor tasks that can gradually take a toll on your work-life balance. With insights from HCM analyst, Trish McFarlane, here’s an exploration of the work-life balance and your ability to restore it.
The average work-life balance– it’s not all fun and games
An average workday of 8.5 hours might not seem extensive, but there’s life outside of work to consider (and it’s not all fun and games). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals spend approximately 1.78 hours a day on household activities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and so on. American employees also spend an average of 1.39 hours a day caring for their children, which many would claim is a second job alone– and we’d agree! And get this: these stats nearly double for households with children six years old or younger.
In an attempt to balance work and life, American employees spend an average of 3.86 hours a weekday doing leisure-like activities— television resulting in the highest leisure activity and socializing with others as a distant second. On average, men enjoy 3.86 hours for leisure, and women enjoy 3.10 hours per weekday. It seems like plenty of leisure time, right?
Understand the impact of imbalance
Despite what seems like substantial leisure time, a work-life imbalance is still common among American employees, and a gradual imbalance can ultimately lead to employee burnout. With over 11.9 percent of employees working more than 50 hours a week and managing a variety of household tasks, employee burnout is relevant and dangerous today (Entrepreneur). A substantial increase of work or consistent overtime, without equal or greater social and emotional support, can easily result in a work-life imbalance among employees, which has a myriad of troublesome consequences.
According to a study published in PLoS One, burnout can lead to health concerns like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, headaches, insomnia, and depression, just to name a few. PLoS One also found employee burnout to be substantially harmful to the workplace. Burnout can increase job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and decrease productivity. None of which are ideal for a healthy work environment or workplace culture.
Restoring your work-life balance
So how can you address burnout and restore work-life balance? First, look externally and report your concerns to your manager or HR. Often, employees overwork themselves without anyone in their company even knowing.
Then, look internally. Trish McFarlane, created a list of strategies to help her restore her work-life balance. She shared:
- Put your health first. Are you caring for your car more than yourself?
- Spend time with your children. They really are a good source of energy!
- Reevaluate work. What are you spending time on most? Is that what’s most important?
- Meditate. Take a few minutes to be mindful of your thoughts and emotions.
- Talk to a friend. Because friends are there to support you with different perspectives.
- Take time for yourself. Read a good book, go on a walk, or do whatever helps you reset.
Whether you’re looking to restore your own work-life balance or support your employees to do so, consider these strategies to prevent organizational burnouts and toxic work environments.
FirstVoice is an anonymous reporting app that encourages people to report when they’re feeling burnt out, or when they are facing other workplace toxicity such as harassment.