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work-life balance

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Work-life balance is the optimal arrangement of an individual’s on-the-job and private time to facilitate health and personal satisfaction without negatively impacting productivity and professional success. 

The degree to which an organization promotes a healthy congruence between the professional and personal lives of employees is largely a function of corporate culture and management styles. The most basic elements required to achieve balance are sufficient time off and an appropriate workload. Other elements common to nurturing work environments include the option to telecommute, flexible hours, and wellness initiatives in the workplace such as yoga classes and  mindfulness training. The results-only workplace (ROWE), one approach to creating balance, allows employees to arrange their working lives in any way that suits them, as long as they complete the tasks they have been assigned. 

Although fostering work-life balance seems counter-productive to some employers, it offers benefits not only for workers but also for businesses. According to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank, work-life balance increases employee productivity 10.6 percent. Other benefits to the business include fewer incidences of burnout, less absenteeism, higher levels of employee engagement  -- which can lead to more innovation and a greater likelihood that employees will advocate for the company.

See Nigel Marsh's TED talk on work-life balance:

 

This was last updated in November 2014

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