Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Is work-life balance really needed so early in your career?

As a newcomer to the workplace, there’s perhaps an expectation that you should be clocking in early, enduring late nights and taking lunches at your desk. Why? To prove your worth on the proviso that the ‘reward’ of downtime will duly come as you move up the ranks.

While many young guns (and even seasoned veterans) are happy to jump at the opportunity to prove themselves with additional work, it begs the question: do you need to sacrifice your personal life for the sake of your career, or is that an antiquated notion?

‘Personal hours’ and ‘work hours’ can become increasingly blurred in a new role, especially when you are trying to make headway. According to a report issued by Randstad, over 51 per cent of workers are now expected to answer work calls outside of traditional work hours. This expectation also extends to annual leave, where 41 per cent of workers believe they should be available despite their holiday status.

But does being available and ‘on call’ make you a better worker?

The same report found that if there was a greater expectation on employees to work beyond traditional hours, the likelihood of them also dealing with personal matters at work would increase. It also suggested that the difference between strictly work and personal matters was now obscured because of the intrusiveness of technology like social media. So work-life balance (or lack thereof) could actually interfere with your working productivity more than you might think.

The case for work-life balance

Contrary to the work ethos that many seniors expect of young recruits, according to a recent study by HR Magazine, two in five junior-level employees actually believe that maintaining a healthy work-life balance helps them work more productively.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean set-in-stone hours should be the only option, it does encourage the belief that your routine work hours should comfortably and healthily fit into your overall ‘life’ schedule – no matter which rung of the career ladder you are on.

According to the same study, a larger portion of junior workers would prefer to mix their personal and work lives, while this was only true across a substantially smaller cross-section of senior managers and directors. So while you may be interested in networking and consider this an out-of-hours activity, such a mantra might be difficult to encourage among senior employees who consider this activity to be an additional ‘in-hours’ operation.

The solution

Work-life balance is about creating and maintaining supportive and healthy work environments, which should in turn strengthen employee retention as well as their productivity on the job. While for younger employees this might include activities such as networking, older employees are interested in seeing quantitative results. As with most things in life, moderation is key, so it’s a balancing act between what is expected of you as a new recruit and which tactics will most impress your new employers.

Work-life balance is the first step to having a tax career that soars. While certain parts of the year will call for overtime, it’s important to keep it all in perspective. And if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, be sure to communicate your situation to your manager.


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