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8 Signs Employees Have Unhealthy Work Life Balance

8 Signs of Unhealthy Work Life Balance

The WEF (World Economic Forum) talks at length about the Great Reset. One doesn’t have to believe in conspiracy theories, however, to realize that the working conditions for the common employee working in the global marketplace have changed.  Even when we may not fully anticipate  a planned reset, what we do know is that the global pandemic forced everyone within the prime working age range (18 years to 64) to re-think. Re-consider what you might ask? The purpose of our lives, what brings joy, what adds meaning, for instance.

The Great Reset Inspired Reflection about Jobs and Careers

Marketwatch informs us that we are not alone in existentialist thinking. While workers reporting to a traditional in office setting, working from home or working from anywhere may not be philosophers, we did take the 2 to 3 years of mandated lockdowns and social distancing to consider “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” Marketwatch referenced a study conducted by Prudential revealed slightly less than 50% of American workers are rethinking their future  job trajectory while the other 53% are considering retraining to focus on an entirely different industry if given the chance.

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The Search for Balance between Work and Life

As we reflect upon our lives in search of greater work life balance, sometimes the best catalyst for generating new ideas and solutions is to bring to mind the daily activities that may diminish our lives, cause pain, hardship, lack of unenjoyment, and overall dissatisfaction. It is clear that poor health  and family discord rank high for many.  The National Institutes of Health studied the responses of 318 participants to find that workers, when thinking about quality of life, consider health equally as important as family relationships.  While these factors are of concern to the individual worker, employers also seek solutions. Studies show that employees who lead balanced lives report increased job satisfaction, improved job performance, increased commitment to one’s employer, improve life quality and enhanced family enjoyment. To help human resources personnel, small business owners, mid-sized businesses and entrepreneurs lead employees to healthier lifestyles that ultimately bring about increases in productivity and employee retention, here are 8 signs for which to watch.

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8 Signs Changes as Necessary

With all this talk about the importance of having a good work life balance, how do can you recognize areas of your life that is unhealthy? How can employers recognize some of the signs indicating worker exhaustion? While the definition of a “healthy” work life balance is completely subjective, there are some signs to keep an eye out for.

Apathetic and Less Motivated

Apathy, low motivation and general malaise are signals from employees that conditions in their work and life need to be rebalanced.  When an employee has an apathetic mood and is not motivated, something is wrong. Employees should not generally feel a complete lack of passion and energy. When you sense that the employee believes that nothing matters and you they can’t joy in their work, task or with colleagues that they traditionally gained energy, be on the alert.  Not only are these indicators that their work life balance is suffering, but they could also be a warning signs of depression.

If this is the case, reach out to the employee and refer them to your health and wellness service providers, employee assistance program and to human resources.

Complaints of  Tiredness

A big sign that an employee’s work life balance isn’t actually that balanced at all is when they complain of constantly feel tired, burned out, and sometimes just overwhelmingly exhausted. Fatigue might be normal after a particularly busy or stressful week, but when an employee feels compelled to mention ‘tiredness’ every single day, something in their routine needs to change.

Employers might help by suggesting to their employee the importance of tracking their moods and energy levels. Every day,  workers might find it fruitful to down every occurrence when they feel exhausted, similar to burnout or when they are extremely stressed. Write down the time, what was going on that brought it on, and how long the feeling lasted.

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In so doing, the employee might notice patterns of fatigue. Some patterns might be at the end of the week in anticipation of the weekend when extended time is required to meet family obligations. Or,  always being tired after talking to a certain friend, or being exhausted as soon as they step foot in the office, respond to or send an email to a ‘backbiting’ colleague. This is how it can be uncovered the specific areas of their work life balance needs to be improved.

Heightened Levels of Impatience

Irritability, restlessness, and moodiness are extremely common among people who fail to balance their time properly. When one’s life isn’t balanced, every aspect of one’s life suffers. A lot of stress, frustration and even anger can come about because a person’s personal probelms follows them to work  and vice versa. Oftentimes it can feel as though everything is piling up, they feel trapped and can’t seem to escape any of it.

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As a result a pervasive mood of unhappiness can color all interactions with others; their supervisors, loved ones, work colleagues and strangers. When you see or sense a co-worker or subordinate responding in a snappy manner, are unusually irritable; please take them aside to help them work through creating some boundaries and assist them in figuring out how to balance their time better.

Issues with Friends, Family, Co-workers and Supervisor

Have you noticed increases in frequency and intensity of disagreements and problems with an employee’s co-workers and supervisors. Perhaps you have overheard conversations about poor interpersonal relations with an employee’s peers, friends and family members. If so, there could be indicators that an employee may need to work to balance their home and work life.

Having the occasional disagreement is one thing, but constant bickering and fighting are not normal in a personal or professional relationship. You might notice this happens when you have a lot of distractions or when work is particularly stressful. Maybe you have found that your personal life is suffering because of work obligations, so you know you aren’t spending enough time on your personal life.

Reduced Work Productivity and Product Quality

In addition to issues with people in their lives, a subordinate or work colleague  you might also notice a dependable, top producer, or overachiever’s reduced work productivity or product quality. You may observe that tasks traditionally handled with ease become harder for them to perform. Or, you might detect an increase in minor mistakes, missed deadlines or failure to participate fully in team projects. In essence, their work is struggling and their performance is not up to your expectations.

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Before initiating a more formalized process to document poor performance, why not take the employee aside, call, or video conference to do an informal check in. Mention that you have perceived a change in their performance and are inquiring if there is anything that you can do.

The employee may divulge a change in their personal situation or may simply state that they are overwhelmed with the workload. In this instance, work with the employee to formalize a corrective action plan with the anticipation of specific areas in need of improvement. What better way to help your employee gain a better perspective on their condition when they realize what ever is going on in their lives is impacting their financial livelihood.

Believe me, this conversation is better had sooner rather than later, when all hope is lost!

Constant State of Stress

Stress is a normal emotion for anyone, and can’t be avoided completely.  During Covid-19, the American Psychological Association (APA), determined that ‘burnout and stress are everywhere.’ Psychologists pointed to mandated lockdowns, school closures, regulated vaccinations, the political polarization of mask-wearing, social justice riots, and constant media announcements of impending doom led to the following statistics (with many workers reporting more than one ailment):

  • 26% lack of interest, motivation, or energy
  • 19% lack of effort at work
  • 36% cognitive weariness
  • 32% emotional exhaustion
  • 44% physical fatigue

While employers don’t establish government policy, employers and supervisors can mitigate employee stress. How employers choose to respond to and adopt workplace policies (like remote work and hybrid working arrangements) can make the difference between fostering a work environment and working conditions leading to healthy work  life balance. When your employers have a good balance of time and energy between their personal and professional life, they will be able to handle stress much more effectively. They will know where their time is spent and can figure out what is triggering it.

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