Bringing Work And Life Back Into Balance In The United States
Knowing how to achieve work-life balance isn’t always easy. We live in an age where technology blurs the line between our hours at work and at home.
In fact, 40% of Americans think that it’s perfectly fine to answer work emails at the dinner table if it’s “urgent”.
Now, the only problem with that is your boss might have a different definition of urgent than you do.
Achieving work-life balance isn’t about being rigid and inflexible with your 40-hour workweek. It’s simply knowing how to set boundaries so your work won’t end up ruining your life.
America Kind Of Sucks At Work/Life Balance
The United States sits at the 30th spot (out of 38 countries) when it comes to work/life balance. Nearly 12% of our workers are working more than 50 hours a week, compared to The Netherlands, which only has 0.5%.
People in The Netherlands spend 16 hours each day working on leisure and personal care. In comparison, people in the United States only spend a little over 11.
The average workday in the United States is also creeping up, logging in at 8.15 hours a day for full-time employees.
Because of that, nearly 60% of Americans say that technology has ruined the modern family dinner because bosses expect answers at any hour.
Other complaints American workers have include:
- 60% bad or overbearing bosses
- 39% work beyond normal working hours
- 39% experience inflexible work schedules or inadequate off time
- 31% struggle with incompetent coworkers
- 30% endure long commutes
Working Too Much Can Burn You
You need that time away from your job to rest, spend time with friends and family, and just generally recharge your batteries. When things get out of whack, you suffer not only at work but also in your life at home.
Those with poor work and life balance report missing important family events or even ruining family time by being distracted or unavailable. They also tend to lose focus even when they are physically present.
At work, you can lose productivity, too. You’ll feel fatigued and even experience poor morale and high turnover rates.
In the end, people who don’t figure out how to balance work life and home life could end up with higher blood pressure, a coronary heart disease, anxiety, depression, and even hormonal changes.
See Also: 10 Habits That Can Prevent Heart Disease
How Can You Regain Your Balance?
All that technology that is preventing you from separating your work life from your home life can actually be helpful in regaining your balance in life. Many American workers report that remote work, flexible scheduling, and paid time off can help restore that balance.
You can do that with the following:
- Negotiate for a flexible schedule. Nothing makes your job worse than having to choose between being there for major family events and paying your mortgage.
- Utilize that technology to work remotely from time to time. Being in an office is a great way to keep office stress at bay but sometimes, being able to cut out your commute and channel that time into other things can be a great way to restore balance to your life.
- Draw lines in the sand. It prevents you from being called into meetings when you need to rest and relax during those times.
How Other Countries Beat Us To The Punch
In The Netherlands, there is paid vacation and maternity and paternity leave. People have a legal right to decrease their hours without having to worry about losing their jobs.
In Denmark, workers get to choose whether to work from home and when to start their workday. There is a minimum of 5 weeks of paid vacation for all workers, too.
We have a long way to go to get to that and it starts with redefining work in America. Learn more about restoring work/life balance from this infographic!