Why employees are equally responsible for lack of work life balance

Time management is important to achieve work–life balance

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While cribbing about the lack of work–life balance, many employees don’t think twice before blaming their bosses, work or organisations for the same.

It is indeed true that some companies or rather, bosses, do not really respect their employees’ time, assigning them ‘urgent’ work at the eleventh hour and expecting them to complete it before leaving for home. However, it is not right to hold the bosses solely responsible for ruining work-life balance. Aren’t employees also responsible for maintaining work–life balance?

All it requires is for the employee to be slightly organised, to manage time and to prioritise work efficiently.

The responsibility of ensuring employees’ work–life balance cannot entirely rest with the employers. The employees are equally responsible. The experts and HR leaders in the industry believe so too.

“People who wish to achieve work–life balance will have to adjust themselves according to their role”

Ravi Kumar, chief people officer, Page Industries

“Employees are equally responsible for their work–life balance,” asserts Sunil Singh, CHRO, Stellar Value Chain Solution.

It is very easy for people to blame others for all their life problems. Similarly, when it comes to maintaining a balance between their professional and personal lives, employees — who feel that they are overworked and that there is no balance between their domestic and official life — very conveniently blame their organisation for this imbalance. What they really need to do is, look at themselves and ask, “Am I managing my time appropriately?”

Punctuality and discipline: There is no dearth of employees who fail to adhere to the standard office timings. They have the habit of reaching late for work. Starting the day late means ending up working late. The ripple effect is that such employees retire to bed late and naturally wake up late the following day. This becomes a vicious cycle that ultimately takes a toll on productivity at work and physical and mental health.

Prioritisation: Another common problem is that employees fail to manage and prioritise their work in the office. Too many tea breaks, smoking breaks and unnecessary gossip sessions lead to piling up of work. This leaves such employees with no option but to stay back and work late.

Culture: The worst is when staying back late at work becomes a culture. This culture is created by none other than the employees themselves.

“Many people do not really have a life for which to achieve balance. They do not have any hobbies as such, nor any close friends. Therefore, they develop the habit of staying late at work, and adapt themselves to not giving time to their family”

Sunil Singh, CHRO, Stellar Value Chain Solution

“Some people just do not want to leave the office. They prefer to stay late and work,” observes Manoj Sharma, president & CHRO, Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills (RSWM).

As per HR leaders, such employees tend to stay late to show others how busy and hardworking they are. They feel they can earn some brownie points from their managers by doing so. “Many low or below-average performers may stay late at work as they believe this will save their jobs,” Sharma explais.

Rules: Employees who wish to show their managers their intent and grab an opportunity to get promoted to a higher role may also resort to working late. Sharma shares that at RSWM, he makes sure that office lights are off by 6.30 PM, and he himself directs employees to leave and head back home.

Hobbies and family: Singh draws our attention to the fact that “many people do not really have a life for which to achieve balance. They do not have any hobbies as such, nor any close friends. Therefore, they develop the habit of staying late at work, and adapt themselves to not giving time to their family,” points out Singh. “I believe, 75 per cent of the workforce falls into this category only,” he adds.

Adjustment and adaptation: As per Ravi Kumar, chief people officer, Page Industries, people who wish to achieve work–life balance will have to adjust themselves according to their role. While some roles may demand staying late at night, they will also allow some free time in the morning, which can then be dedicated to pursuing hobbies. On the other hand, for some people, mornings may be extremely busy, and therefore, they may have to adjust their schedules accordingly, and make time for their hobbies or passions in the evening, which may be relatively free. “It totally depends on the role a person is essaying at work,” says Kumar.

“Many low or below-average performers may stay late at work as they believe this will save their jobs”

Manoj Sharma, president & CHRO, Rajasthan Spinning and Weaving Mills (RSWM)

Coaching & mentoring: As per Singh, employees who develop the habit of working late hours need to be coached and mentored by their respective organisations, as their productivity is directly linked to their habits. That means, such people should be encouraged to develop certain types of hobbies or pastimes or simply be encouraged to spend quality time with family, to rest and relax.

Clearly, employees are equally responsible for their work–life balance, but that does not imply that companies or managers should turn their backs on them altogether. In fact, some section of employees need more support and handholding so that they are able to achieve this balance, for instance, mothers. They have the dual responsibility of managing work at the office as well as fulfilling their domestic commitments. Such employees need more attention, and it calls for the organisation to have a culture that ensures fulfilment of such needs.

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