We all want to achieve work-life balance but what is it really? - SEEK Career Advice

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We all want it, but what is it?

We all want it, but what is it?

The days of working nine-to-five are all but over, with many Aussie professionals embracing flexible working arrangements and hours as a means of achieving greater balance between work and home, and being happier and more productive in their careers.

Experts talk a great deal about work-life balance, and 92% of Australians say this sweetener would have an impact on their decision to change careers. Much more than a recruitment buzz-term to pique the interest of candidates, work-life balance has become a significant deciding factor for professionals in which roles they seek, and which companies they choose to work with. So what exactly is work-life balance? And why is there such wide desire for it?

What is work-life balance?

Like many of the best things in life, work-life balance means different things to different people. For 34% of us it means having flexible working hours and opportunities to work remotely, while 27% see balance as finding work that doesn’t disrupt life at home. A further 23% value balance as the ability to accumulate hours towards personal time, and 15% think work-life balance can be achieved by working only agreed set hours, no overtime.

While high-level employees and the self-employed tend to value flexible hours and locations, mid-management employees value the ability to time-bank and accumulate hours towards personal time off. Part-time employees tend to favour work that doesn’t disrupt home life, while entry-level employees value set hours and not working overtime.  

Australia-wide, professionals are fairly happy with their work-life balance, though Australian Capital Territory leads the way with 68% of professionals stating they are happy with their work-life balance. This is followed closely by 62% of professionals in Tasmania, and 61% in Victoria, Queensland and Northern Territory.

Of Australian men surveyed, 35% valued flexible working hours and locations, followed by the ability to time-bank hours for personal leave (27%), work that doesn’t disrupt home life (23%) and no overtime (14%). Similarly, 33% of women value flexible working hours and locations most in their quest for work-life balance, followed by work that doesn’t disrupt home life (31%), the ability to time-bank (20%) and no overtime (16%).

How to achieve work-life balance

Looking to improve work-life balance in your current role? Try one of these 5 simple strategies.

Experts talk a great deal about work-life balance, and 92% of Australians say this sweetener would have an impact on their decision to change careers.
  1. Consider your current workload. Assess whether or not the number of tasks you have to complete is reasonable within your normal working hours. If you have too much on your plate, talk to your colleagues and see if there is any room to share out those additional responsibilities.
     
  2. Talk to your employer. If you feel like you’re currently stretched too thin, a chat you’re your seniors might help you work out how to achieve greater work-life balance. You may be able to negotiate flexible working hours in lieu for overtime worked, or organise some work from home days.
     
  3. Taking work home should be the exception, not the rule. While it’s sometimes inevitable, avoid taking work home where possible, so you can spend your time away from work relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends.
     
  4. Work smarter, rather than longer. Look for ways to boost your productivity during your normal working hours so you can avoid overtime and subsequent burnout.
     
  5. Make the most of your free time. When you’re away from work, take time to relax and regroup – but also find time to do the things you love. Doing something fun with your weekends and evenings will make your down-time feel more meaningful.
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