Engagement or Burnout: Getting Work Life Balance Right In Your Workplace.
Work-life balance (WLB) is an ancient truth, embedded in our social history – how many times have you heard the phrase (first recorded in 1659) “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Today our definition is often linked with long working hours, but strictly speaking WLB should be seen as the way we are able to balance the stressors of our daily lives at work and home with recovery time experiences that renew our emotional and physical energy.
It’s Not A Problem, I Love My Work!
Many of us love being at work. However, long hours often leave little time for recovery, which may have a cumulative effect. A Mental Health Foundation survey found that when employees work consistently long hours, over a quarter of them feel depressed (27%), a third feel anxious (34%), and more than half feel irritable (58%). And the impact of long hours is not confined to the office – more than 40% of employees surveyed said they neglect other aspects of their life due to their work. This can create a downward spiral into “burnout”.
Burnout vs. Engagement
American Psychologist Christina Maslach, who specialises in this area, sees the opposite of burnout as ‘engagement’ and the table below shows what these opposites might look like in the workplace.
The impact of Healthy and Unhealthy work life balance (WLB) at work:
WORKLIFE BALANCE: What the evidence suggests.
ENGAGEMENT (Resulting from a Healthy WLB)
BURNOUT (resulting from an Unhealthy WLB)
Feelings of accomplishment
Happy using their strengths
More creative and curious
High job satisfaction
Better social relationships
Poor concentration and attention
Emotional distress/negative self talk
Poor performance and productivity
Increased illness and anger
Better employee retention
Recruitment: attracting talent
Reduced levels of absence, sickness and stress
Better customer service and increased customer loyalty
High sickness absence
Unmotivated workforce and low productivity
Behavioural issues e.g. poor relationships, bullying, disputes
Higher recruitment and legal costs
The benefits of engagement over burnout are obvious so how should employers work to sustain these benefits? Flexible working is the most common way that businesses have tackled the issue but it is not always easy for businesses to implement.
At Namasté Culture we have been exploring WLB and how to maintain an engaged workforce using the HSE Management Standards for reducing stress and promoting healthy working. Next week we will share our top tips based around 3 of the standards:
- Job demand (workload patterns and environment),
- Control (an individual’s influence over their work),
- Support (encouragement and resources provided).
If you would like to know more about anything discussed in this blog or would like help developing your Wellbeing programme, Namasté Culture would be happy to help. Please call us for a chat on 01954 267640 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maslach, Christina, and Michael P. Leiter. “Early predictors of job burnout and engagement.” Journal of applied psychology 93.3 (2008): 498.
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