Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “How do you feel about your work-life balance and how often do you work outside of normal business hours?” I’d also asked them to share some “rules to live by” for achieving better work-life balance.
More than three-fourths (78%) of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, 13% are/work for recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants and 9% are advisers/consultants.
Nearly four in 10 responding readers (39%) indicated they are extremely satisfied with their work-life balance, while more than one-quarter (26%) are somewhat satisfied. Four percent are extremely dissatisfied, 13% are somewhat dissatisfied and said it depends on the day/week/month/season.
The majority of respondents reported that they work outside of normal business hours sometimes/occasionally (39%), often (30%%) or always (13%). Meanwhile, 13% said they rarely do, and 4% said they never do.
Asked how often they work while on vacation or PTO, 9% selected “always,” 26% selected “often”, and 22% each selected “sometimes/occasionally,” “rarely” and “never.”
Some “rules to live by” to achieve better work-life balance shared by respondents included:
- What usually works for me is come in early every day, maybe not take the full lunch hour here and there but when Friday comes, I leave on-time and then see you Monday.
- Walk away. Do NOT turn on the computer to make a quick check. You WILL get sucked into working on something.
- I try to answer emails promptly when not at work. This generally keeps me from thinking about work beyond the few minutes it takes to reply.
- I like to be accessible, but not too accessible…meaning I control the contact, not the other way around (screen my calls, answer my emails when needed).
- When you are on PTO do not check your email or log on. 2. If you have tried to negotiate a change in your workload unsuccessfully, you must learn to say No without guilt when asked to take on a new project if the project is not something that is important to you or your career progression. 3. Step away for lunches and breaks, the management team will always assume that you are stepping away for lunch and breaks so they will mistakenly think it is possible for you to get your work done in an 8-hour day. 4. If you are sick, take your sick time even if your work will still be there for you the next day, even if you work from home. 5. Always ask yourself…. If I work an extra hour to complete this particular item, will it impact me positively (i.e., better sleep, less stress). If that extra hour will not have a positive impact on you, don’t work late or log on during a weekend, also consider that if you work that extra hour or weekend, will it eventually become “expected.” 6. Take PTO to have fun, be with your family and enjoy life, trust me… your peers do.
- Boundaries are very important! No work email after hours or weekends, period. If a true emergency arises after hours or on weekends, my colleagues can call or text me. Otherwise, I work during work hours, unless I have an urgent deadline or it is convenient for my schedule.
- Closely guard your personal life; my coworkers know that they can text me in an emergency, but I don’t check my emails on the weekends or after-hours like many of my coworkers do. I’ve never missed anything except for maybe the stress.
- Know that although you have work that needs to get done at work, you have to devote time to yourself and family. Commit to setting aside time on specific days for you to exercise, read or just be. No matter what, force yourself to honor the time that you’ve committed to for yourself.
- Set a work schedule and stick to it. If your workload requires additional time, only allow a certain amount of time to do so. Set aside time to take breaks.
- Set a lunch hour and set the expectation that you aren’t available during that time. Very few emergencies are so great that they can’t wait an hour for your return. It’s just an hour in the day that you can recharge and makes such a difference.
- Enjoy working from home but remember to stand up and take a walk at lunch any day you can!
- If I have something to do during “business hours,” I don’t feel guilty about taking a break as I know I will make up the time later in the evening or weekends. I also try to work less during vacation time, only responding to urgent emails or quick replies.
- Leave the office or your home desk alone by walking away/turning it off within 1 hour of quitting time. Don’t go back and check. If there is an emergency, your boss or staff should have your phone number, but only allow them to call on true emergencies.
Most of the readers who left comments seemed satisfied with their work-life balance. But, the few that are not shared what they thought contributed to their dissatisfaction. Many commenting readers shared that working from home during the pandemic gave them better work-life balance, but that’s because they set rules for themselves. Editor’s Choice goes to the readers who said: “Just do it! Closely guard your personal life and don’t let those lines blur. You don’t want ‘she was a great employee’ on your tombstone,” and “It should be called life-work balance!”
A big thank you to all who participated in our survey!
I’m waiting to get tips from others, because clearly I am not doing something right here.
I don’t have any tips. We are short staffed and have been for years. Management has little interest of alleviating our workload and stress.
I’m bad at it! I wish I had rules to share.
The tone for a better work-life balance has to come from the top of the organization. If the expectation is that staff are not expected to respond to non-emergency emails and phone calls outside their work day, then staff can achieve a good work-life balance. When the expectation is that emails in the evenings, weekends and while on vacation will be responded to quickly then the employee cannot achieve a good work-life balance. Additionally, our employer is inflexible regarding work location and hours. Salaried staff must be in the office (no remote work under any circumstance) for regular work hours. And management wonders why there is the great resignation.
Work-life balance is more than just a cliché. It is vital to physical and mental well-being. You can have all the money and fancy job title you want but without a life outside of work to enjoy it then what good is that?
I felt like I exercised more and was more relaxed when I was working at home, although I did work longer hours. I was able to take breaks as I or family needed. I did have to set boundaries with myself to NOT turn on the computer on evenings and weekends unless something really had to be worked on.
While I work beyond normal office hours throughout the week, I never work on weekends. That helps relieve the stress during the week somewhat and gives the body some time to recuperate. I also refuse to work on vacation/PTO. That is what it is there for.
I have been without an assistant for 2 1/2 years. I am resigned to the fact that my current 5:30 am to 5:00 pm work schedule will continue until my retirement in three years.
I feel like it has become so much more of the norm, which is a good thing. 5 years ago, I would still be working 2-3 extra hours at a physical office due to my workload. Sharing the work and spreading it out should be the norm and help with the work/life balance for everyone.
You must own your work-life balance yourself. Sometimes that means saying no firmly. Saying no does not mean you have a bad attitude. I had to learn to own my work-life balance in the last few years as I worked long hours, weekends, worked while sick and only took the minimum vacation, now I have a lot of accrued vacation, but have lost several family members I wish I spent more time with and my children are grown with families of their own. Own your work-life balance so that you do not have to live with regrets.
I enjoy my work when it doesn’t become my life!
Just do it! Closely guard your personal life and don’t let those lines blur. You don’t want “she was a great employee” on your tombstone.
It is just that, a balance. It isn’t something that you will get right the first few times. But if you commit and set limits, you will find that you become better at it each and every day.
Periodically management sends out messages of concerns about our well-being. However, they don’t actually take meaningful steps, such as hiring more staff, increasing salaries, and developing & promoting from within.
I have enjoyed working remotely fulltime since March 2020 and will continue to do so. It has helped me manage my workload better because I am able to work a little longer each day so I don’t feel like I am falling behind. It also allows me the flexibility to attend doctor appointments and take longer lunch breaks for exercise or to get things done around the house like laundry or cooking/baking.
Working from home just makes it easier to cope with life. If I have a spare 10 minutes in between meetings or whatnot, I could empty my dishwasher or start a load of laundry or other quick mundane tasks. This then gives me the time after work to focus my time and energy on more important things.
It should be called life-work balance!
Companies may say they believe in work-life balance for their employees, but in practice the companies won’t take the steps necessary to achieve that – which frequently requires hiring more people. The bottom line is too important, and employees are suffering for it.
What’s that? I feel like work somehow now permeates every aspect of my life and it’s hard to get away from it.
I love the hybrid telecommuting schedule my company is going forward with. If you could do the work from home during COVID, you can do most of it at home after. Great relief to high gas prices!
NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.
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