Don't sacrifice your wellbeing for a company's bottom line

Journalist Colette Sexton on getting that work/life balance right.


Do you check any of the following boxes? You spend dinners with friends responding to work emails; you have returned a work call at a wedding: you never take a lunch break? If those sound familiar, then it is likely that you never switch off from work.

It is bad, but you are not alone. Many people, particularly those in senior management positions, find it hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance. 

Some 60 per cent of senior business leaders in Ireland and Britain say they never switch off from work. Nearly half (45 per cent) of all senior managers say that they feel their business requires them to be "always on", according to research from Close Brothers Business Barometer. And it gets worse as you go up the ladder. More than 60 per cent of those in roles including chief executive, managing director and chairperson say they do not switch off.

Always on

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A lot of this we can blame on our mobile phones. Work follows us everywhere. It is contained in a device that we use for personal as well as professional reasons — a device that we check on average 57 times a day. A third of decision-makers said they never turn their phone off, and a further 29 per cent only do when on holiday.

This non-stop lifestyle is a disaster for your personal life, but it will also impact on your professional life. Breaks from work not only improve your own well being, but they also boost productivity, making you better at your job. While many people in senior positions might argue that they can't switch off because the buck stops with them, they might actually be harming their businesses. Without regular breaks, our brains do not have time to rest and recover, and as a result, we are less likely to be creative. You might be killing yourself constantly working to try to come up with a solution for a particular problem, when a break from work could give your brain the rest it needs to come up with a eureka moment.

Increasingly, companies are realising the benefits of promoting well being among staff, such as leaving on time, using flexitime, having regular breaks and working from home. If you are in a senior position, you should pave the way in your organisation by introducing these types of work practices and giving employees a better work/life balance.

Whether you are in a leadership position or not, it is important to remember that a job is a job. You don't want to look back on your life and remember all the nights you worked late. Don't sacrifice your wellbeing for a company's bottom line.

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