Managing Work-Life Balance

A scale showing work-life balance to depict this issue in the healthcare industry

The concept of work-life balance is frequently discussed and contemplated both within the workplace and at home. For many individuals, achieving a healthy balance can pose challenges. However, it is important for the management and leadership teams to actively pursue and promote work-life balance within their department and workforce.

Our home life is important to us all and it can certainly impact our work. The opposite can occur when our work becomes so important that it starts impacting our personal life. Thus, keeping it all in balance is a modern age challenge for many.

I have to say that I have always taken my work very seriously and I have given my all and then some at every position I have held. I dedicate a significant portion of my personal time outside the expected work hours to excel at my work. Yes, I have taken my work laptop with me on vacations to check emails, respond to urgent needs, and even took a few occasional conference calls while on vacation or on weekends. The trick is to steer away from becoming a “workaholic” – someone who works compulsively, even when they don’t enjoy the process of work itself. While someone might be labeled as a “workaholic,” it is possible that they are simply putting in extensive effort to accomplish tasks they genuinely enjoy doing. However, many experts firmly believe in the importance of striving for a healthy work-life balance. As a manager or leader, especially in the healthcare industry, it is important to be mindful of this aspect and engage in ongoing discussions with your staff to promote a balance between work and personal life.

Our society and workforce today have put many of us in the technology-based dependency mode, which keeps us linked and logged into our workplace at any given moment. Texting, emails, phone calls, online meetings, etc., this has created a 24/7 world for many. It’s almost expected of us to be plugged in 24/7, and that is the reason why we need to make an effort to find our personal work-life balance. Informing your employer or superior that you cannot take calls or handle emails while on vacation or weekends should be something that is acceptable in any organization.

Sometimes work morale has been seen to improve if there is a healthy work-life balance maintained in the workplace. Striving for and achieving the “well-being” can be a challenge. As a director or manager do you know if your staff are coming in early and/or leaving work late? For exempt employees this may be a little hard to determine. Additionally, with the large population of remote workers this can make it difficult to monitor those employees who are online often. So, let’s keep these tips in mind for a workplace “Well-Being”:

  • Delegate tasks when possible.
  • Practice deep breathing, mindfulness, and/or meditation (alternatively, take short breaks).
  • Pause and evaluate your work priorities and try to balance the schedule with personal priorities.
  • Assess tasks and set priorities and monitor them each day/week.
  • Discuss and prioritize workload during staff meetings or when on team conference calls.
  • Contact your employees individually and ask about their workload and where they are on their work-life balance scale.
  • Come to work on time and leave on time.
  • Observe employees’ hours for any timing anomalies.

Having social events at work can also help foster greater motivation, creativity, and engagement. Some of these events can even include family members. Remember the “Company Annual Picnic” each summer that was held or small monthly birthday celebrations? We are witnessing a decline in the occurrence of such events: partly due to the associated costs and expenses, in part, due to remote workers living miles away from company office(s), and due to employees wanting to keep their work separate from personal and family life.

There are many books and articles on work-life balance that provide well-researched information and scientifically proven advice. One has simply to search the internet with the subject “work-life balance” and you’ll see the volume of books and articles published on this topic.

Those who have retired are now coming back into the workforce, often wanting to work limited hours. In fact, an interesting article was just published in Atlantic called “Semi-Retirees Know the Key to Work-Life Balance” by Kate Cray, that discusses this recent trend and looks at why retirees want to work and strive to maintain a better work-life balance. They often consider working 20 hours a week or less as the ideal scenario, however, the key factor lies in finding joy and fulfillment in the work they are doing.

Speaking of enjoying your work, this is a big part of the mentality shift today. Although difficult at times, we need to avoid office politics and diving too much into personal issues and problems, which lead to more stress, discord, and tension. To foster a workplace where employees can find joy and purpose in their work, it’s essential for managers to take proactive steps. With that in mind, ask yourself these important questions:

  • How are you, as a manager, actively fostering an environment that allows your employees to find joy or purpose in their work? Moreover, what steps are you taking to ensure your own satisfaction and fulfillment in your current role?
  • Do you feel that you have achieved a healthy work-life balance?

With a large percentage of the HIM and CDI workforce now being “remote”, the personal, face-to-face engagement has gone away, many workers reveal that remote work helps them maintain a better work-life balance. But let’s not forget about the productivity requirements, accuracy and quality standards. Keep in mind that striving for self-care or more time for yourself is not selfish, but it is thoughtful and mindful. As we enter the summer season, I encourage you to prioritize and maintain a healthy work-life balance, not only during the warmer summer days but also in the months ahead. By doing so, you may discover an increased sense of happiness, peace, and success in your job performance. Additionally, I urge you to support and promote work-life balance among your own employees or staff, as it can positively impact their overall job satisfaction and well-being as the success of your hospital or healthcare organization.

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