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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Working It Out: Why it’s important to create a work-life balance

We live in a digital age and smart work matters more than hard work. We want happy, productive and energetic employees rather than the employees who are compelled to work long hours at sub-optimal productivity levels.

Written by Siddhartha S | New Delhi | Updated: June 17, 2019 8:53:09 am
work life balance, why is work life balance important, 996 work culture Office relationships are important but they cannot compensate for the absence of personal relationships in our lives. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

“There is no single formula to achieve success. There are many roads you can take”.

As an inspirational speaker and author, one thing that I really hate about my own industry is the noise around the word ‘success’. There are people who succeed after a lot of hustle and then they begin to prescribe formulas for the world. On one hand we hear about the productivity benefits of a 4-day work week, and on the other hand, we hear China pushing for the 996 work culture that encourages working from 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week.

I personally believe that a 70+ hour work week should be a personal choice and not an imposed or implied philosophy. The irony is, some of the corporate tycoons and public figures endorse the work culture of 996 and we may see increased adoption of this philosophy. But creating a work-life balance is important, like it is imperative for employers to encourage the employees and address their grievances.

Entrepreneur and employee mindset is different

I have been an employee and I have been an entrepreneur, and I can confidently tell you that they both have different journeys, risks and rewards. When a self-made billionaire entrepreneur begins to expect that his employees should work as hard as he did, then the billionaire is being ignorant. If an employee has to work 70+ hours for a basic salary, then it is not a great idea. The employee may as well take the entrepreneurship path where there is an opportunity to create a company and to keep the profits.

Work-life balance is critical

Humans are different from machines because they value family bonds and social relationships. We all know that office relationships are important but they cannot compensate for the absence of personal relationships in our lives. If an employee is spending twelve hours at work, then he or she has little or no time for parents, spouse, siblings, children, friends and other family members. When you are dying, you will be surrounded by family and friends and not by your colleagues.

Put health before wealth

Numerous studies have proven that humans who sit for more than 8 hours a day, double their risk of cardiac-related problems. Thus, it is very important that human beings get to move and exercise as part of their work. A lot of companies are installing standing decks in lot of its offices to ensure that its employees stay healthy. If people work twelve hours each for six days a week, then they also compromise on the quality of their sleep. Lack of sleep coupled with long hours of sitting jobs is an open invitation to health problems.

Do not be hypnotised by your success story

Rolf Dobelli in his book titled, “The Art of Thinking Clearly: Better Thinking, Better Decisions”, mentioned the survivorship bias. Most of the self-made successful people suffer from this bias. They think that they have won and have became successful because they are smarter than the rest and have worked harder than the rest. What they fail to see are the factors at play. Also all those who have failed are not undisciplined people. It is important to stay humble and not to give unwarranted advice. One thing that I am proud of is that I have never imposed my formula on the world. I only broadcast my ideas and let people decide if they want to adopt them or not.

Devise an incentive system if you want employees to work extra hours

I am aware that some people do not mind working long hours if the upside is high and the incentive system is well in place. Consultants, investment bankers, corporate lawyers and surgeons work long hours but they also get rich in the process. Thus, if any organisation is planning to adopt 996 as the official working hour system, then they should carve out a win-win deal for the management as well as the employees. People do not mind working hard, if the promise is guaranteed. Not all interns who work for free or minimal wages become executives.

Success has different meanings for different people

Economic success is not the only yardstick to measure the success of human life. My mother has been a home-maker all her life, and yet I consider her more successful than I am or ever will be. I say this not just about my mother but for any parent who raises a family with grace and values. There are so many people who after their 40 hour work week, prefer to do something for the society or for their families. It would be inconsiderate to label them as people who have no ambition.

We live in a digital age and smart work matters more than hard work. We want happy, productive and energetic employees rather than the employees who are compelled to work long hours at sub-optimal productivity levels. Work is a matter of choice and employees deserve this dignity of choice in today’s world.

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