What is work life balance? Just like ‘wellbeing’ it is an imprecise term that means different things to different people. It’s a phrase that not everyone likes, as it brings with it the implication that work and life are two separate elements rather than interconnected aspects of who we are. Here at the Work Consultancy we work on the basis that everything is connected. Work life balance, and indeed wellbeing, is about our whole self, and that is how we approach all of our coaching and training.
One way to thinking about work life balance is the idea of finding an equilibrium between our work and our home lives, one that works for us and our own particular contexts and circumstances.
Work life balance is hard to define…. but we know it when we see it and when we feel it.
Maintaining a balance between competing aspects of our lives isn’t always easy. There are times when the stuff will pile up and this impacts upon our resilience levels. In our connected world with technology in our pockets, the lines between work and home are ever blurred, and there will be times too, where our work and our home lives are in direct conflict.
There is much that can influence our own individual sense of balance. Long working hours, technology, domestic labour, family pressures, ill-health, financial worries, commuting – and there is no one solution to the challenge of finding balance. One size only fits one. We each have to define work life balance for ourselves and understand how best we can achieve it.
What does work life balance mean to you?
How in balance do you feel right now?
What can you do to improve it?
We deliver a range of workshops on wellbeing, including a workshop on understanding and achieving work life balance as well as 121 wellbeing coaching. If you’d like to discuss your needs, get in touch!
Wellbeing interventions in the workplace are generally defined as being of a primary, secondary or tertiary nature.
Primary interventions aim to prevent work related stress or wellbeing issues from arising. They address problems at source. These interventions will be strategic, systemic, structural. Examples of primary interventions include job design, working patterns, leadership development or resource allocation models. Primary interventions can design wellbeing into the fabric of work and the workplace. The responsibility for wellbeing is placed upon the organisation and its leaders.
Secondary interventions are about helping people to cope with challenges and health promotion. It includes resilience training, mindfulness classes, fitness and coaching. Tertiary interventions support people who are already unwell or in a crisis situation and includes occupational health, EAPs and counselling services. Both secondary and tertiary initiatives primarily address symptoms. They focus on and place the responsibility for wellbeing on the individual.
Primary interventions are proactive. Secondary and tertiary interventions are reactive. Research suggests that primary interventions are more effective the secondary and secondary is more effective than tertiary.
Primary action is where the magic happens. It tackles the big issues… but it is also the difficult stuff, and much more difficult than handing out free fruit or offering some desk based massage.
It has become increasing common to see criticisms of organisations for operating only in the secondary and tertiary spaces. It gives rise to suggestions of care-washing – there to look good rather than really make a difference. But there can be real value in the secondary and tertiary too. Intervention in these spaces can support culture change, give permission to employees to engage and create conversations. They can provide people with valuable skills and information, and nudge them to work with wellbeing in mind.
To be truly effective, a wellbeing strategy needs to include all three types of interventions. This is where real change will be felt because together they address both the source of any negative impact on wellbeing as well as the consequences. They have a complimentary effect – all three together is an optimal position.
Where is your organisational wellbeing offering right now– is it primary, secondary or tertiary?
And how can you ensure you are engaging in all three spaces?