Why 'Work-Life Balance' Is So Difficult To Achieve

Why 'Work-Life Balance' Is So Difficult To Achieve

By: Chad Brooks
Published: 06/19/2014 08:19 AM EDT on BusinessNewsDaily

If you're having trouble finding that perfect work-life balance, you aren't alone.

U.S. employees continue to struggle with the nuances of working as hard as they can, while also ensuring they're taking enough time for themselves, according to a new study from Randstad.

This is especially true when it comes to taking full advantage of vacation days and remaining connected to work outside of normal business hours. Specifically, 42 percent of employees feel obligated to check in with work while on vacation and more than a quarter feel guilty using all of their allotted vacation time. Part of the problem workers have in disengaging while on vacation is that many feel it helps them get back quickly into the swing of things when their time away from the office is over. Nearly 70 percent of the employees surveyed report feeling more productive after returning from vacation.

"Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a pain point for many U.S. companies," said Jim Link, chief human resources officer for Randstad North America. "With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being 'always available,' especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours."

Feeling guilty about separating work and personal life is not restricted to just vacation time. The research discovered that 45 percent of workers feel obligated to respond to emails after hours, while 47 percent feel guilty if they don't work -- either on site or from home -- when sick.

Link said, given that managers now have 24/7 access to their staff, it is incumbent upon managers to be mindful that their actions set the tone about being "on" outside of normal work time.

"Managers should clarify expectations regarding after-hours communication and encourage teams to develop daily routines that respect work and personal boundaries," Link said. "Imbalance can easily lead to stressed and disgruntled employees, negative health and morale issues, and diminished worker productivity."

Overall, it's millennials, also known as Gen Y, who are having the most trouble finding the perfect work-life balance. Employees born between 1982 and 1993 are most inclined to remain "on" during off hours, with more than half feeling compelled to respond to emails outside of work. Additionally, 40 percent of millennials surveyed expressed guilt about using all of their vacation time, more than double the 18 percent of baby boomers who reported a similar sentiment.

"Gen Y was born into the era of technology and as a group is more comfortable than baby boomers or Gen X with being constantly connected in both their work and personal lives," Link said. "As Gen Y and incoming Gen Z employees populate the workforce, companies will need to create protocols that thoughtfully address work-life boundaries to meet both organizational goals and employee needs and tendencies."

The study was based on surveys of 2,257 adults over age 18 who are employed full time.

Originally published on Business News Daily

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