Work-life Balance definition

Work-life balance refers to the level of prioritisation between personal and professional activities in an individual’s life and the level to which activities related to their job are present in the home.

The ideal work-life balance is open to discussion. Freethinker Paul Krassner said that anthropologists often define happiness as having little or no differentiation between an individual’s professional and personal lives.

Work-life balance is a topical issue due to the increased amount of technology that removes the importance of physical location in defining the work-life balance. Previously it was difficult or impossible to take work home and so there was a clear line between professional and personal.

The increase in mobile technology, cloud-based software and the proliferation of the internet has made it much easier for employees to be ‘permanently’ at work, blurring the distinction between professional and personal. Some commentators argue that smartphones and ‘always-on’ access to the workplace have replaced the authoritarian control of managers.

Stress is a common feature of a poor work-life balance. In the information economy mental stress has been identified as a significant economic and health problem, causing by a perceived need of employees to do more in less time.

A key issue in the work-life balance debate is where responsibility lies for ensuring employees have a good work-life balance. The general feeling is that employers have a responsibility to the health of their employees; apart from the moral responsibility, stressed-out employees are less productive and more likely to make errors.

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