Although working tons of overtime might make an employee look dedicated to their job, it’s not healthy. Working too many hours and not establishing a work-life balance can cause employees to experience high stress and burnout. Not only will stress and burnout impact their productivity at work, but it can also harm their mental health.

One way companies prevent their employees from reaching burnout is by encouraging a better work-life balance. When employees strike this balance, they’re happier, healthier and more productive. Discover the effects of work-life balance on employees and how to improve it in your workplace.

What Is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is a term that describes the time an employee allocates to work and other aspects of their life. Someone who works large amounts of overtime and skips out on most of their personal plans doesn’t have a good balance. Instead, a good balance is one where employees stay productive at work and have time in their day for their personal needs outside of work.

Not all employees will have the same needs to create their idea of good work and life balance. If someone is passionate about their job or owns their own business, they might feel more satisfied with their life if they spend more time at work in comparison to an entry-level employee who is just getting started in their career.

What Affects Work-Life Balance?

A lot of different factors can affect work-life balance. One factor that plays a large role is commuting. If employees live far away from their workplace, they’re wasting valuable time sitting in traffic. Providing employees with flexible schedules or the option for remote work are two simple solutions to help combat long commute times.

Another factor that contributes to a lack of work-life balance is poor management. If management demands too much of their employees, their employees must work extended hours to complete all of their tasks. Management might also refuse to hire an additional employee to help out. Having an increase in responsibilities at work can cause employees to work more hours to meet tight deadlines, which results in a lack of balance.

Lastly, salaries can affect work-life balance. When the cost of living has increased but the salary has not, employees might take on additional hours or second jobs to make ends meet. Companies should stay aware of inflation and increase their employees’ salaries to match.

The Work-Life Balance Impact on Employees

When employees have a poor work-life balance, they likely feel stressed out. The extra stress can cause health problems like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. Stress can also compromise one’s immune system. Eventually, these health issues will cause employees to start calling in sick more frequently, which will impact productivity.

The lack of productivity is also a result of feeling burnt out and overstressed. When employees are too stressed at work, they can’t focus or find a reason to care.

Outside of work, a lack of work-life balance can affect personal relationships. If an employee continues to neglect their loved ones for work, they will end up with relationship problems that cause even more stress, which will seep into their work life. The bottom line: unhappiness at work can cause unhappiness at home, and vice versa.

Why Is Work-Life Balance Important to Employees?

If companies want to prevent a high turnover rate, they need to find a true answer for, “Why is work-life balance important to employees?”

Work and life balance are important to employees for their mental health. Nobody enjoys feeling stressed out at work all the time. When an employee feels overwhelmed and stressed at work from a lack of work and life balance, it makes them not want to go to work. They might even quit because of it. In addition, bringing a negative attitude to work can affect the mood of other employees and have a ripple effect on productivity.

Another reason why work-life balance is important to employees is that employees have hobbies, passions, relationships and lives outside of work. Even if their job is their passion, employees need to have time to spend in these other areas of their lives, like exercising or spending time with family and friends.

Tips for Employees: How to Balance Work and Life

If you want to create a positive work-life balance impact on employees, you need to understand how to balance work and life. Once you understand what your employees need to balance work and life, it’s important to respect them when they establish boundaries or want to take a vacation. Here are a few ways you can strike this crucial balance and help your employees discover what steps they may need to take:

Prioritize Time

The first step to balancing work and life is prioritizing time. Start your workday with your most demanding task. Once you get this task out of the way, work on anything that’s under a tight deadline. Prioritize your time at work by not wasting hours in the kitchen chatting with your favorite coworker or holding meetings that could have been an email. The more you prioritize your time at work, the less overtime you will have to work to meet deadlines.

Set Boundaries and Work Hours

If you have a demanding boss that insists you work 12 hours days, it’s important to establish boundaries early on. While it’s normal to work overtime every once in a while to meet tight deadlines, make it known that this isn’t something you will do every day. If you continue to work overtime without establishing boundaries, your boss will continue to expect your long hours. If you have priorities before and after work like dropping off your kids at school, put your foot down and let your boss know that you can’t work after a certain hour. Once you establish boundaries, they will respect them.

Take a Vacation

If you’re already at the overstressed burnout phase of your work-life balance, you might benefit from a vacation. Even if you’re not, try to use your vacation days to relax, not to cash out. Vacation days are essential to unplug from work and focus on life outside of work. When you do use your vacation days, make sure to turn off your work email and leave your computer at home. Taking time away from work can help you recharge and come back to work feeling more productive and happy.

Make Plans Outside of Work

Don’t neglect your friends because work is calling your name. One of the steps toward establishing work-life balance is making plans outside of work and sticking to them. Although it’s easy to just pick up take-out after a long day at the office, meeting up with a friend for dinner will benefit you more. Plan work around your life, not your life around work.

Unplug

After you leave the office, don’t think about work. It’s essential to unplug for the day. Don’t check your email on your phone, don’t open up your computer to finish up some work—when you’re done with work for the day, you’re done. Unplugging after work hours and on the weekend will help prevent burnout and stress. It will also help keep your work and personal life separate.

Ask for Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, why not ask for help? Your employer might need to hire another person to help you with your tasks or someone on your team might be willing to lend a hand. Don’t feel afraid to ask for help, as it might be the one thing standing between striking a good work-life balance and a poor one.

Start with Small Changes

It might feel overwhelming or impossible to go from working non-stop to just 40 hours per week. Instead of stopping cold turkey, slowly make changes in your work and life balance. Start by reducing your hours at work and then slowly incorporating more plans outside of your work life.

Find a Flexible Job

The key to establishing a good work and life balance is finding a job with a flexible work schedule. If you’re looking for a flexible way to earn money (or make a little on the side) that doesn’t impact your work-life balance, consider taking online surveys. Branded Surveys pays members to provide their opinion on online surveys that big brands use for market research. As a reward for answering surveys, members earn points that they can later redeem for cash or gift cards. Best of all, you can take as many surveys as you get matched with.

If you’re ready to establish a better work-life balance and get paid for your opinion, sign up for Branded Surveys to get started.