Work life balance is a must for a better quality life

Work life balance is a must for a better quality life
A healthy adult has a need to work. This is part of human development. - Pic solely used for illustration purpose
A HEALTHY adult has a need to work. This is part of human development.

Everybody works, whether you are a housewife, self-employed or an employee. Working adults spend an average of ten hours at the workplace.

Thus, the workplace has a significant impact on an individual''s mental health and well-being. A safe and healthy workplace ensures work efficiency and makes working pleasurable and satisfying. Poor working conditions on the other hand, will create a stressful work atmosphere.

A little stress at work is good as it enhances productive performance. However, when the stress becomes excessive and unmanageable it can seriously affect one''s health. Personal difficulties, family problems and stressful life events can make it worse.

Causes of stress in a workplace:

Job related - Working conditions, the use of new equipment, prolonged work pressure, new work techniques and styles - can result in stress.

Career development - Frustrations resulting from the lack of incentives or appreciation in the career; lay-offs and retrenchment could also result to stress.

Role related - Frequent changes in roles at the work place; dangerous tasks or working conditions.

Relationship - Conflict with colleagues, superiors, subordinates or people encountered at work

Organisational change - Change in organisational structure, new management, frequent take-overs, uncertainties

Symptoms that indicate you are under stress:

Anxiety

Loss of appetite

Aggressiveness

Alcohol abuse

Depression

Sleep disturbances
Excessive worries

Fatigue

Easily irritated

Lack of concentration and motivation

Restlessness

Managing Stress-7 Steps:

1. Be realistic about your work

- Accept your strengths and limitations

- Develop a positive attitude towards your work

- Enjoy what you do and do it as best as you can

2. Organise your work

- Manage your time well; prioritise your work and avoid a last minute rush

- Know how to delegate your work; avoid bringing uncompleted work home

3. Sharpen your problem-solving skills

- Address and list down problems rationally; plan possible solutions systematically

- Evaluate the feasibility of each solution

- Take appropriate action

4. Have a proper attitude towards changes

- Be open, flexible and realistic about unavoidable changes

- Plan your changes well

5. Practice effective communication at the workplace

- Be assertive, but not aggressive

- Express your ideas in a polite, firm and clear manner

- Respect your colleagues'' opinions

6. Foster social support within the workplace

- Establish friendships with colleagues

- List down all the people and organisations that may be able to help you and your colleagues

- Share your problems with someone whom you can confide in

- Take time to listen

- Do not judge your colleagues

7. Practice a healthy lifestyle

- Learn to relax

- Have enough sleep

- Exercise regularly

- Have enjoyable activities/hobbies

- Refrain from tobacco, alcohol or drugs

- Practise good moral and religious values

While our developing nation's work culture has yet to reach such a boiling point, our concern is whether we are heading in that direction today.

According to global workplace provider Regus's latest online survey, 70 percent of Malaysian workers are reporting more stress-related illnesses due to challenging global economic conditions.

The report which covered the opinions of 20,000 senior executives and business owners across 95 countries revealed that 48 percent of the Malaysian respondents feel their stress levels have risen and over 42 percent are sleeping less due to work worries; 33 percent of respondents worry about losing their jobs, 32 percent lack confidence about the sector they are working in; 53 percent of respondents report that their family and friends have noticed they are stressed by work, with another 47 percent saying that stress is damaging their personal relationships.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an important aspect of work-life balance is the actual amount of time a person spends at work. Looking at data from the OECD and the International Labour Organization (ILO) we can see some broad and interesting trends.

"Asian countries tend to work the longest [hours]; they also have the highest proportion of workers who are working excessively long hours of more than 48 hours a week," says Jon Messenger, an ILO expert on working hours as reported by the BBC.

"Korea sticks out because it''s a developed country that''s working long hours," he says. "Normally it''s developing countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka - countries like this that are working long hours."

As expected, Malaysia''s statistics follow the pattern of the rest of the Asian nations. According to an Expedia''s 2012 Vacation Deprivation Survey, Malaysia ranks 4th place after India, Brazil and Italy, in terms of employee dedication as many just can''t seem to "let go" of their work during vacations.

Conducted based on 8,000 employed adults from 22 countries throughout the globe, the survey also revealed that Malaysians spent about 40 hours a week at work and went on an average of 14 days of annual leave, among the lowest in the world.

While Malaysians might not be at risk of dying of overwork, it is undeniable that the steep rise in non-communicable diseases attributable to workplace stress can jeopardize the nation''s push towards developed nation status, especially if it affects productivity.

Stress is a taboo. Don''t let stress kill us. It''s worthless to die for organisations. Work in an area where there is happiness. Do not succumb to unwanted pressures by looking at the dollars and spending it on treatment for your prolonged medical condition and treatment due to stress. Work life balance is not a statement or a figment of an idea, but it is the goal to be healthy, calm and peaceful to lead a good life. Wealth minus health is a waste, wealth with health is a gain!

(This commentary is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect BERNAMA''s stand or views on the matter). -  BERNAMA