The 2017 World Happiness Report reported that work-life balance is now one of the strongest predictors of happiness.
Unfortunately, more than half of Americans are dissatisfied with their work due to a lack of work-life balance. In the majority of cases, this is because workers feel overworked and underappreciated, with little control over their own lives or schedules.
Work-life balance and flexible work options have stepped in to improve job satisfaction and the overall happiness and health of employees.
In many cases, work-life balance means not being confined to a 9 to 5 timetable or an inflexible schedule. This kind of rigidity always prioritizes work before all else. Work takes up that chunk of the day no matter what else is going on in life.
This can throw off the desired "balance" that makes individuals happier, freer, and more productive.
Work-life balance is about expending energy to various parts of life: work, family, friends, health, and personal growth. This "balance" of well-roundedness and wholeness in life innately begets a sense of purpose, belonging, and happiness.
1. Work-life balance prioritizes social time.
Social interaction is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. The more time spent with people, the happier you'll be. Studies have shown that social interaction is directly correlated to a person's sense of belonging and joy.The World Happiness Report stated that "social capital" is a moderate predictor of happiness. This means that we need to be social in order to be happy, both inside and outside the office.
Work-life balance provides more time to spend with family and friends. You can better schedule your work around your life. With flexible work, you can take a Tuesday afternoon off to see your child's soccer game and talk to the other parents at the game. You can make up the necessary work later that evening, the next morning, or over the weekend. You have the flexibility to prioritize people over projects when need be.
This actually improves productivity. Work-life balance encourages social collaboration, which leads to increased creativity, ideas, and productivity.
2. Flexibility enables a greater focus on health.
Health is the foundation to happiness and productivity. If you don't have a healthy mind and body, you can't work at peak capacity.
The 2014 National Study Of Employers from the Families and Work Institute found that employees with flexible work options are more likely to have: less stress, better mental health, better physical health, and improved sleep patterns. They're also less likely to negative spillover from home to job and vice versa.
This is because they have the flexibility to prioritize the key "stressor" on their plate at any given time. If they have something going on at home, they can be present to handle it. If they have a big project at work, they can spend more time at work that week knowing next week they can take time off to be with their families.
Moreover, flexible work provides more time to focus on health as a key value. People can schedule doctor's appointments and not have to worry about taking a day off of work. They can take time in the morning to workout, showing up to work later in the day when they're more productive. They can take time off to recover from the flu and not infect everyone else in the office. Health can finally be a priority.
Flexible work allows individuals to take off when they need to, thus avoiding the $1,685 annual cost of absenteeism per employee. Flexibility also helps to prevent
Flex work options can also help workers avoid traffic, which is the number one cause of stress in our daily lives. People who don't drive during rush hour have lower anxiety and stress levels with better overall health.
A healthy workforce lowers healthcare costs, improves safety of the workplace, and builds a high-performance workforce.
3. Self-scheduling balance improves autonomy.
The strongest form of work-life balance tends to stem from flexible work options that enable employees to pursue their own definition of "balance." This naturally instills a sense of autonomy by putting the power of work-life balance in the hands of the worker.
Respondents of World Life Happiness Report stated that autonomy is directly linked to job satisfaction. The ability to control your actions and schedule impacts your happiness and efficiency levels. People who feel they have freedom at work are more engaged with their work overall.
4. Happiness at home produces happiness in the workplace.
There is an irrefutable correlation between personal and professional lives. Stress in one area bleeds out to stress in other parts of life. A study from Oregon University found that a happy home life begets happiness and productivity in the workplace as well.
If you want to be a happy person, you need happiness in all areas of your life. This happiness stems from living a work-life balance that aligns your values and priorities appropriately.
5. Happy workers are more motivated, engaged, and productive.
Workers who are happy are more satisfied with their lives and job. Studies show that even a short-term boost in happiness can lead to greater productivity. Long-term joy has profound effects on engagement and success in the workplace. This productivity can provide a huge return for the business.
Moreover, this motivation and productivity, in turn, leads to a higher level of employee loyalty. This increases retention rates and reduces costs associated with turnover retention. It also leads to a reputation boost for organizations. The greater number of happy employees you have, the better your company appears to the customer.
Ultimately, work-life balance and flexible work options create happy employees and a positive work environment. This translates to improved productivity, greater employee loyalty and engagement, greater bottom lines, and a stronger definition of success for employees and organizations alike.
It's time to start demanding autonomy, flexibility, and happiness in your work.