A decade-long research study of work culture, work-life fit, and health, funded by the National Institute of Health, has found that workers in environments that support work-life balance show half the risk of cardiovascular disease, significantly lower levels of stress, improved physical and mental health—and higher job satisfaction.
In explaining the research Ellen Ernst Kossek, professor of management at Purdue University, said her own research supports that people are more depressed when they have “low boundary control,” i.e. that their home life and “time off” will be invaded by relentless work issues.”
Despite the well-known benefits of work-life balance, many organizations appear to have challenges implementing this type of support. Part of the problem may be that managers—many of whom have been conditioned to be workaholics themselves—simply don’t know how to facilitate employees’ work-life needs.
In one of Kossek’s research experiments, she and her team trained managers of a grocery store chain for 45 minutes to an hour on how to support employees’ work-life needs. They began to offer emotional support and instrumental support, helping employees get the right schedule. They learned not only how to be creative, but how to be role models. We agree with Kossek, when she says, “If you train the whole manager group…you change not just individual behavior, but the entire culture.”
We want to hear. Do you feel you have good work-life balance and how does that balance, or lack of it, affect the way you feel about your workplace? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
Bobbi L Kamil
9/15/2015 11:57:18 am
I worry lots about this next generation that seems to often feel driven by a need to make more and more money--just to survive (especially in Silicon Valley) just to make ends meet. They loose their perspective on this key need for balance. I'm sure there's no easy fix, but the more aware a person is of their needs, the more able they are to argue for balance. Thanks for the reminder. I've forwarded your piece to numbers of young people.
9/16/2015 10:44:27 am
You are so right Bobbi. There are so many factors that really affect the person's ability to achieve balance. The more people who value it, the more often it will happen.
9/15/2015 12:37:12 pm
I am perpetually surprised by the amount of rediscovery that occurs. Edwards Deming, the acknowledged leader of the topic of "quality control" observed some 60 years ago that most of the problems in any organization is the result of poor practices by management. Thus, to improve an organization, you must address problems of management and not try to "fix" the employees.
9/16/2015 10:42:56 am
Thank you for this Dick. We most definitely agree that culture starts at the top. And you have made it clear that it also includes work-life balance.
9/17/2015 09:38:29 am
Dick: Really like your phrase: Lead by example not exhortation.Thanks.
9/22/2015 12:52:28 am
For years I worked in an organization that 55, 60 - 70 hours a week was the norm, on call 24/7 - little wonder I got burned out after 14 years. I adamantly told myself I would not lose my work life balance with my latest manager job especially after having a brief/temporary position with a company that I only worked 8 hours, had a wonderful lunch and went home @ 4:30 - it was dreamy work hard/play hard (and their culture).
9/22/2015 01:00:49 pm
You are so right, Barbara. Thank you for your personal insights and history in the area of work/life balance. Couldn't agree more: It is a phrase that is easy to utter and very hard to create. Please stay in touch if you find answers in your quest!
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