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Whatever happened to work life balance?

Updated on September 7, 2012

To get noticed for promotion, to support our colleagues, to keep our company in business, to give our children the best start....Also, these days it's expected!

These may, on the surface, seem like really good reasons to put in the extra hours but are we actually doing ourselves more harm than good?

Downsides to promotion...

  • Expectations to stay for longer hours are increased
  • You may be required to be "on call" at all times
  • You may be asked to forfeit vacation time to meet deadlines

This can ultimately mean less time for yourself and your family...

To get noticed for promotion

To get ahead in this competitive age it seems like we really are expected to put in extra hours. Time, as they say,is money and we also have to get to the goal posts before anyone else.

It's not enough just to get the work done to be selected for promotion, you have to be seen to be present outside the hours of the "normal" work day.

Of course, it does make sense that people who are willing to put in more time and inconvenience themselves for the company should receive more rewards....after all, if they don't and they're salaried their hourly rate is essentially reduced.

However, working more hours is not necessarily a reflection of efficiency, and can actually signify a lack of organisation in some cases...

Downsides to being the "go to" person"

  • People will always come to you first, because you get things done
  • You could end up with a disproportionate amount of work to do
  • You may end up taking responsibility, and stress, onto your shoulders when it's not yours

This can lead to additional stress and health problems...

To support colleagues

When you spend so much of your day at work, your colleagues often become your friends. You care about their wellbeing and are often willing to stay late to help them out with their tasks.

Hopefully if you stay behind for them, when your hour of need comes then they will help you too.

Often when you're in a corporate situation the people that you work with can become your community, and you'll do anything to keep it intact even if it means taking on other people's work. BUT, any work you do that is not in your job description may never be recognised or rewarded. Naturally the more time you spend in this community the less time you have to make contacts around your own home.

However, if your colleague is also your boss then there may be some kind of reward in it for you, like a promotion or a pay raise, or it may just be a paid lunch or dinner.

Downsides to feeling responsible for your company's sucess

  • Additional pressure and stress that you don't need to carry
  • Fear of being laid off if you don't meet the high standards you've set for yourself
  • A need to check in with emails and work related matter at the weekends and on vacation

Even when you're with you friends and family they will feel like they're not getting your full attention and relationships may suffer...

To keep our company in business

Meeting the demands of customers is always important in business, and increasing competition means to get ahead of the rest your company will have to work harder and smarter. For you to continue to keep your job, and get paid, then there may be extra hours to meet deadlines and demonstrate that you are the best in your field. This may or may not result in increased compensation.

In companies where pleasing investors is key there are added pressures. Investors often do not realise how much effort it takes to rech goals and will only part with a certain amount of cash to achieve a target. In high tech industries, especially Biotech, this has the added problem of uncertainty in results, which leads to more work that was initially expected and budgeted for. Your boss won't pay you less, but they may expected you to work longer hours for the same wages.

Downsides to working extra hours for your kids' "head-start"

  • The kids see less of you and resent that
  • Relationships with your children actually suffer the more time you spend at work
  • You kids don't understand the real value of money, because they don't see all the hard work required to get it

In your attempts to give them a good start the kids miss out on the invaluable benefits of spending time with you...

To give our children the best start

You may think that by getting that raise or promotion you'll be giving your kids the best chance of being successful themselves by being able to contribute to the costs of their education. However, this will definitely mean longer hours, possibly working weekends etc.

A little extra cash also comes in handy for those awesome Christmas presents and trips to the movies, not to mention expensive vacations to exotic locations and all the costs associated with this.

Then of course there are clothes and healthy foods......etc....etc... the list goes on.

Also in our efforts to give children a good start we want them to live in a safe community, which also means more expensive housing and/or longer commute times.

Companies have to realise that these additional stresses will actually result in more absenteeism due to health realted problems and additional costs for disability benefits.

As people are living longer, and already putting pressure on the healthcare system, these issues will become increasingly important.

Hopefully more consideration will be given to the health and relationship benefits of work-life balance in the future.

For more hubs by CatSimmons click here:


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    • KevinC9998 profile image

      KevinC9998 6 years ago

      I found this to be a very enjoyable read. I liked the part about supporting your colleagues as it reminded me of a similar hub I wrote called, "Got a Minute?" Nice job- Voted Up! Kevin

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      While I was reading this I was reminded of a movie musical I recently watched: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. the main character had to be made less cutthroat than the stage musical for people to want to see the movie, but he cut corners everywhere. One of the things he did was get in earlier than anyone else, rumple his clothes, throw around empty coffee cups, throw crumpled paper on the floor and lay down on his desk waiting for people to arrive so he could pretend he was working all weekend. He did a lot of other dishonest and shady things too. But there was great music.