I have found trying to write this column my most challenging one so far. Not because I am without something to say, but because like most people at this time of year, I am suffering with mental exhaustion.
R15 billion. That’s the annual cost to our national economy from absenteeism. We forget how mentally exhausting and stressful it can be to show up and perform every day. Too much stress over a long period of time leads to workplace burnout. Burnout can cause fatigue, mood swings, irritability and a decrease in work performance.
While scanning through my Facebook feed I came across one of those Oprah ‘Aha’ moments. A woman on a group I am in was sharing her health issues and how her doctor advised that she really do some self-reflecting and find her joy.
Here is the part of the thread that I would love to share and hopefully it makes you think about your joy:
“What do we do for joy? Not accomplishment. Joy. Someone once told me we all need a parallel life, and that women particularly are not great at carving out space and time for it. Do/did you do things (possibly even a career) because you are good at it or because it brings you joy? What brings you joy? Do you incorporate it in your daily life?”
Now when we have full-time jobs there is very little time to find that work life balance, but it is important.
Maintaining a work-life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout. Chronic stress is one of the most common health issues in the workplace. From depression, to anxiety and insomnia and even physical health issues, we should not take stress lightly.
Nestlé was named as the best place for South Africans to work in 2019 – as it stood out for ‘creating a flexible work environment’ and’ driving a better employee experience’.
Nestlé said that one of its key understandings is that “presence does not necessarily mean performance”.
“As such, office employees may choose to telecommute by working from the comfort of their homes leveraging on using appropriate technologies such as virtual/Skype meetings or instant messaging to connect with teams on a frequent, regular or as-needed basis,” it said.
Investec has an active sports and social calendar with events ranging from lunch time Pilates to in-house mingles. Investec also introduced unlimited leave this year.
East Coast Radio and Jacaranda FM give their staff spa days and access to weekly exercise classes.
Vodacom was voted in the top 10 companies to work for and one of the reasons is its maternity leave. New mothers can choose between six months fully paid maternity leave, or 16 weeks fully paid maternity leave with the option to work 30 hours per week for six months after returning to the workplace.
So just who needs to ensure employees find a good work-life balance? Is it the responsibility of the employer or the employee? It’s a bit of both really. Employers need to make sure staff take leave, employers must allow staff time off when sick or have personal family issues. Obviously, this must not be to the detriment of the business but have value for both parties. Creating a healthy workplace that looks after the wellbeing of employees and their families is essential to the success of any business.
A good work-life balance for employees can improve staff motivation, increase staff retention rates, reduce absence, attract new talent, and reduce employee stress.
I am not a psychologist, nor do I claim to know much about the psyche of the mind. What I do know is that as a manager, I do my best to help my staff have that work-life balance and as an employee, I am grateful for the opportunities I get to find my joy outside of the office.
Here are a few ways to find that work-life balance in the new year.
- Prioritise your time. Not everything on your to-do list is urgent.
- Plot some personal time. What do you do when you leave the office? Are you guilty of sending emails and WhatsApp messages after 5pm?
- Tap into technology. Instead of driving to a meeting, use Skype or conferencing technologies to give you more time for other things.
Make exercise a must-do. A healthy body means a fresh mind, which means you will function better and complete tasks in less time.
- Manage your time. Invest in time-tracking tools. Make time for something you love – other than work – and give it the time it deserves. Do some work on your mental health such as meditation or reading a book.
- Have that holiday. Make time for a holiday. Even a long weekend every quarter is better than nothing.
The pursuit of balance can itself be exhausting but it is important. What’s your joy?
Charis Apelgren-Coleman is the market engagement manager at Kagiso Media Radio. She has worked with small and large local organisations as well as large multinational organisations, while managing specialist content teams.
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