It is universally accepted that a healthy work-life balance is absolutely pivotal to general wellbeing. Despite this consensus among experts and corporate leaders alike, an unfortunate myth still prevails: to be busier is to be better. Here, we demonstrate just how harmful an imbalance can be.
Of course, mastering the balance between personal and corporate lives is important.
Of course, the spill-over of wellbeing at home is wellbeing in the workplace.
Of course, we work better when we are happy.
All this is undisputed.
Too often, however, do corporate executives add a concessionary ‘but’ to their ‘of course’:
“…but, it is better that I am busy at work.”
There seems to be an acceptance in the upper echelons of corporate Australia that it is natural to allow one’s work to overwhelm all else. While the work-life balance is spoken about as something to strive towards, there remains a nobility in pushing your personal life to one side in the name of doing your job.
This is obvious from Mayo Clinic’s 2018 survey of the health risks associated with the executive lifestyle. 90% of respondents acknowledged that they struggled to maintain a healthy work-life balance but continued with their poor habits.
Clearly, the problem is not a lack of awareness; people in positions of leadership know that they are spending an undue amount of time on their work. The issue is the ‘but’ that we referred to above: busyness is considered desirable in the corporate world.
Recent statistics, from a variety of sources, unequivocally reject such a notion.
In 2017, Executive Health Solutions published its Executive Health Index. Here, it was found that executives’ lack of sleep and physical inactivity impaired their work performance by 30% and 7% respectively.
From these figures, it is clear that devoting more time to your work does not necessarily translate into greater productivity. The mental and physical health consequences are so great that an imbalance actually diminishes an executive’s contribution to his or her company.
The opposite is true: an even work/life balance means that one is more productive during their time at work.
A report published by Gartner’s Corporate Executive Board – which represents over 80% of the Fortune 500 companies – indicates that people with a healthy work-life balance work 21% harder than those whose employment dominates their personal life.
Here, the fundamentality of finding the right balance between the competing obligations in life is plain to see. You can’t put off recalibrating your over-emphasis on work on the grounds that you are benefiting your company. It simply is not true. The notion that being busier is better is a fabrication.
We are all guilty of believing this myth sometimes. Rather than addressing an issue at hand, we convince ourselves that it is fine by rationalising the problem.
We tell ourselves that it is okay to be working 12 hours a day because we are getting work done on behalf of our team.
We justify missing our kids’ birthdays and family dinners because doing so will get us one step closer to a promotion.
The reality is that you are taking steps backwards at both work and home.
To be a complete leader, you need to master both domains of your life: work and private. Leadership is about looking beyond the short-term and considering the future consequences of present circumstances.
A naïve leader will work themselves into the ground, stifling their capacity to contribute in their role.
A complete leader maximises productivity in the long-term by optimising every aspect of themselves, including their private life.
If you would like to discuss strategies to recalibrate your work-life balance, please contact Melinda Fell.