Work-life balance is vital in today’s business world
A workaholic society is taking its toll on individuals - working constantly affects a person’s social life, personal relations and most importantly health. There is a strong relationship between work-related stress and mental ill-health – excessive and persistent stress can trigger and escalate mental illness. Psychological problems that are frequently brought on by work-related stress include: fatigue, low self-esteem, irritability, depressive and acute anxiety disorders. Workplace stress is costly and is now at epidemic proportions, it affects people differently, is difficult to measure but has a troubled relationship with both ill-health and unhappiness - work life balance has never been more important.
"Work better, yes, not longer”
There is constant pressure for employees to stay connected after normal working hours - but research indicates that long hours result in less productivity. Cell-phones, emails and video conferences make it increasingly more difficult to leave work at the office, but working longer hours does not necessarily mean working better — it can even have the opposite effect.
We live in a culture that is particularly demanding but as work takes up more and more time, self-care decreases and the potential for illness increases; society has become a fast-track of over achievers - at a price! Over work affects every part of a person’s health, as a workaholic eventually becomes out of touch with their body. Long working hours and highly stressful jobs not only hamper ability to harmonise work and family life but are also associated with health risks, such as increased smoking and alcohol consumption, weight gain and depression.
“A workaholic will die faster than an alcoholic”
Stress weakens the immune system and makes a person susceptible to heart disease, also recent research shows that chronic stress can double the risk of a heart attack. People spend most of their daily life carrying out their job and work for a significant part of their life. Hence, the kind of jobs they have matters a great deal for their well-being.
Severe fatigue is a symptom of depression - excessive pumping of adrenalin produces a fatigue that should act as a circuit breaker to warn of danger to all the body’s functioning systems, but workaholics push themselves excessively until chronic fatigue burns them out.
Workaholism is slowly becoming unattractive but becoming more recognised as an insidious problem that can have life-threatening consequences. Whether therapists consider workaholism an illness, an addiction, or a symptom, they do, however, agree on one thing - it is unhealthy and because there is less of a social stigma attached to workaholism than to other addictions, health symptoms can easily go undiagnosed and neglected. The ability to be able to identify common stress symptoms can give a person a head start on managing them, as stress that is left untreated will eventually cause health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Scandinavian countries lead the way when it comes to work life balance: Denmark, Norway and Sweden being in the top 6 countries. At the top of the OECD’s (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) work-life balance list is Denmark, followed by Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Sweden.
Employees are now looking for employers who offer a better work-life balance and research indicates that employees work harder for those companies that encourage work-life balance; as they recognise that balance is important as it allows a person to separate work and home, it also helps a person function at their best.