Volume 2 Issue 1 June 2018 : By Prof Arjun Naik
“Life is like riding bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”
Work life balance...
Before searching for a technical and theoretical definition of work life balance (WLB) let us have a quick look at the story of Sage Walmiki, who later wrote great Indian epic Ramayana. He was born to to sage Prachetasa and his name was Ratnakara. When he was a small boy he went to forest and got lost. A hunter took him under his care. Ratnakara got married to a hunter girl and to support his wife and children took to robbery and started looting people to feed his family. One day he met sage Narada. He was asked by Narada whether Ratnakara’s family will partake in his sins also. His family refused to partake his sins and he was shocked. He was disheartened. Later he did vigorous Tapasya (penance) and got the name Walmiki. Subsequently he wrote the epic Ramayana and became famous. Perhaps his case is the earliest case of WLB issue which lead to a more fruitful life later!
Not everyone be so lucky as Ratnakara to get a guru like sage Narada and to become famous sage Walmiki in later part of life. The WLB issue could be very serious and could potentially destroy one’s life if proper corrective and timely steps are not taken.
According to the British Field Marshal Bernard Montogomery, Bajirao Peshwa was possibly the finest cavalry general ever produced by India. He fought 42 battles in a short life span of 39 years. He neglected his personal health & his family. The ill effects if stressful personal life could be seen in his biography. Its an example of glaring example of imbalance in work and life. Similarly, Chatrapati Shivaji, a famous Maratha king was busy in attacking Moghuls throughout his life so much so that his own son did not receive love either from father or from mother.
Simple definition of work-life balance means that an individual needs time for professional work and other aspects of personal life. The personal life can either be personal interests or family related issues.
Why Work Life imbalance occurs?
There are four moderates that are correlated with the issue.
· Gender – The perceived role of men differs from that of women. Men prioritize their work duties over family duties.
· Working Hours – Spending long hours of work due to inflexibility, shifting in work requirements, overtime or evening work duties lead to imbalance between work and family life. Long work hours though increase work-life imbalance, is associated with financial benefits.
· Family Characteristics – It determines the degree of work-life imbalance. Working parents experience reduced family dissatisfaction due to their family duties which remain incomplete in most of the cases. For single working parent the dissatisfaction is on higher side.
· Single working parents - the dissatisfaction is on higher scale.
Technology – Is it boon or bane?
Bowswell and Olson-Buchanan say, “Increasingly sophisticated and affordable technologies have made it more feasible for the employees to keep contact with work”.
Companies use e-mails and distribute smartphones to their employees so that they remain connected to the business even when they are not in office. The boundaries between the workplace, workday and off day are blurred. Employees are made to attend the technology driven office processes even when they are on vacation or off duties. In fact, the word “off duty” has lost its old meaning.
This situation got momentum post globalization. Employees feel that their jobs and the allotted work hours excessive because of globalization.
The side effect of advanced technology, one would dare to say, is causing more work-life balance imbalance.
Causes - Work Life Imbalance
The technological advancement has blurred the boundary of work and life. The ‘work from home’ concept evolved during the past two decades make the employees stay connected to business even when they are not in the office.by working from home the employees can attend to their family jobs without any hassles. It has provided win-win situation, but it has its own limitations. The long and extended working hours, slowly and gradually, adversely affect mental health.
Stress related disorders
• Cardiovascular disease
• Sexual health
• Weaker immune system
• Frequent headaches
• Stiff muscles
• Poop coping skills
• Lack of concentration
• Binge eating, smking, alcohol
According to the survey conducted by the National Life Insurance company, four out of ten U. S. Employees state that their jobs are extremely stressful.
In the same study work family spill over was investigated. It was found that with an increased amount of negative spill over from work to family, the likelihood of reporting stress within the family increased by 74%, and with an increased amount of negative spill over from family to work the reported stress increased by 47%.
Burn-out feeling comes from the more expectations kept the job from the partner, from the children and from oneself. The Hardworking, the loner, the perfectionist, the grim are more prone to burnout syndrome. Great ambition, then the suppression of failure, isolation and finally cynical attitude towards the employer. Such feeling spoils family life and leads to anxiety disorders and then finally to depression and in worst cases to suicide.
The very stressful and time-consuming employment culture, like Japan, leads to low birth-rates of the nation. The “aging of Japan” is believed to have been caused by work-life imbalance.
Corporate Executives on WLB
Dinaz Madhukar Exe. VP.DLF Luxury Retail & Hospitability (Ref: ET., 08/03/2018)
She is a celebrity lady entrepreneur having over two decades of experience; was on Women’s Day asked by E.T. (8th March 2018) as to how she manages to strike work-life balance? She said, “Both of us are in hotel industry and have lived a nomadic life moving from city to city and state to state. My life gets consumed by my work as this is my passion and I truly enjoy it. My family supports me. I do, however, take out time for all things that are important for me including special days & holidays where we spend quality time.” Infact, she said ‘Love what you do and Do what you love’.
Bhagwad Geeta on WLB
The whole of Geeta repeatedly speaks about ‘Samatva’ means equality or balance. The whole struggle is to maintain a balance or equilibrium. The laws of various types, like, the government law, the social law, the communal law, the family law, the social trust law, etc. aimed at one thing namely, the maintenance of harmony, in every walk of life, in every section of society. If any section of society feels imbalance, there is an anxiety creeping in the social life. A little thorn pricking the sole of our foot makes us totally uneasy until we remove it and establish balance. This situation often arises because we live in a sense perception-world i.e. wholly relying upon the feedback received from the senses. We do not counter-check the feedback reports. We thus gain mental imbalanced and the fruits of imbalance; which lead to emotional outbursts and unwanted frictions in our relationship. Many a times people pick-up a wrong shloka of Geeta without referring to its context and get ready to fight.
योगस्थ: कुरु कर्माणि सङ्गं त्यक्त्वा धनञ्जय | सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्यो: समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ||2:48||
Meaning: Perform your duty equiprised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is Yoga.
Purport: Success or failure be accepted as it is without losing balance. This essence of maintaining Yoga is all our actions is the essence of happiness.
हतो वा प्राप्स्यसि स्वर्गं जित्वा वा भोक्ष्यसे महीम् | तस्मादुत्तिष्ठ कौन्तेय युद्धाय कृतनिश्चय: ||2:37||
Meaning: O son of Kunti, either you will be killed on the battlefield and attain the heavenly kingdom, or you will conquer and enjoy the earthly kingdom. Therefore, get up and fight.
Purport: There is no certainty in one’s life. There is not much of choice but to fight. Hence get up to fight.
If a stranger reads the second verse without getting the context laid in the first verse the actions will be wrong, and the result will be unwanted.
One must have clear perspective of any WLB issue first before trying to solve it.
· Family Support
One must make family members feel that they are looked after well and are oved sufficiently so that they, in return, provide necessary support to keep WLB in healthy state.
· Superior Support
The role of bosses at work place plays very important role by providing small conveniences to the employees to make the employees stress-free and cheerful. It could lead to improving HR interventions. Work place stress works adversely even after the work hours. It further leads to many serious issues.
· Social Media
It helps greatly in interpersonal relationship building and maintenance; but it has its own limitations. Over dependence could lead to imbalance and more serious issues. It should be avoided for better WLB.
· Family Time Vs Me Time
There is always a tight rope walk between the time dedicated to one’s family and the time spent on one’s profession/occupation, passion, hobbies etc. Both the segments demand quality time. One must be righteous while spending time on both the segments of one’s life.
Organic Method for WLB: Reflection Exercise
There are quite a few mental exercises which are highly effective and potent. They are all subtle exercises i.e. not much is to be done at gross body level.
1. Sit on floor with your back resting on wall or sit comfortably on a chair with palms kept on thighs and both legs kept parallel to each other. It can also be done by sitting on chair with back resting on the backrest of the chair.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Take full, slow and deep breath and slowly release. Go for similar 5 rounds in order to streamline breathing. Subsequently continue breathing at the same speed during the entire exercise.
4. Start visualising all the activities done by you during yesterday from start to end i.e. from the time you got up till you retire at the bed-time. Any work done by you, any talk done by you, and any place visited by you etc. everything in detail be watched as per the time of the day.
5. In case you miss any incidence, watch that incidence in detail as per the time slot and watch it once again.
6. You watch the events without passing any judgement and without any comment on the event.
7. You simply watch these events like you would watch a documentary movie in which you are the main doer.
8. There are some good actions, some moderate actions and some wrong actions. You are neither getting perturbed by wrong actions nor getting unduly excited by good actions. You are simply watching the events.
9. This exercise can be termed as observing your own actions with detached mind. This can also be called Mental Audit. As we remove the errors pointed in office audit, we will get a good opportunity to rectify our errors w.r.t. WLB.
This exercise is simple and very economical. It can be done at any time of the day but the most effective time is either morning when you start your day OR in the night when you sign-off for the day. It is equally effective in all the WLB situations- at work place, at home, in society, in colony, in relationships etc.
Wishing you all the readers Happy and Strong WLB!
Prof. Arjun Naik is HOD Life Style Management, ITM Business School, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai