Well-being at work: the work/life balance

Reading time: 5 minutes
Brian A Jackson

With TV movies, it's usually the same story: a handsome man or woman in urban mode, overwhelmed by his or her professional life, who is going to find the meaning of life and love in a remote American village ...

It's called: finding your work/life balance! And it's your first choice, regarding well-being at work.

What is it? How does it work? OK, let's talk about it together...


Of course, there are those who would like to spend their life at work or those who only wait for one thing when they arrive at work, to be able to go home...

But for the most part, you all agree: you would like to have a better division of time between work and your life.

The figures speak for themselves: in our survey on well-being at work, the majority of you (66%) wanted a good work/life balance. Another survey above... And the same observation about the importance given to this balance.  

Did you know that?

According to the OECD, France is only sixth in the ranking of countries with the best work-life balance.


How to define this balance?

It is a fair "compromise between the world of work and the private sphere of a person".

It is also called " work life balance".

Ideally, both employer and employee are responsible for setting it up.

However, it is difficult to find the exact formula! For example, one employee may value leisure and personal interests, while another may value spending time with family.

Similarly, finding the right "compromise" does not necessarily mean perfect equality between time spent at work and time spent on leisure or family. This is not always possible.

While some have careers with a real work-life balance, others have chosen to make sacrifices on family life or leisure time to achieve their ambitions.

Sometimes, we divide our life into periods: some are devoted more to professional life and others more focused on private life, the couple or the family...

What is certain is that companies have understood the impact of this balance on their employees' results. By establishing a harmony between private and personal life, we contribute to the satisfaction and productivity of our employees and therefore to the success of the company... It even becomes an asset to retain or attract talents.

Any symptoms?

Work overload, depression and burnout syndrome are frequent consequences of an imbalance between professional and private lives.

If you feel exhausted, crushed by work and overtime, you are certainly not there... Beware of burn-out!

If, on the contrary, you are bored at work, if you feel unhappy or underemployed, you will be in danger of boredom... and the balance will always be absent.

In the same way, if your private life makes you sad, is accompanied by emotional wounds or psychological disorders (break-up, death, etc.), then there will be an important imbalance this time on the private life side... And undoubtedly, consequences on the professional life side (apathy, demotivation)

Beware also of blurring: "from the English word "to blur". It refers to the blurring that occurs between professional and private life "when the boundaries no longer exist and we work both at the office and at home. When professional and private lives overlap too often, it can have negative consequences on well-being. It is necessary to know how to disconnect...

Every imbalance in one part will inevitably affect the other... And finding the right balance is also about finding it in every part of your lives.

Pillars of life

It's almost Christmas? And who says Christmas, says gift! So here is one of them:

"Imagine life as a game in which you juggle five balls.
You can call them: Work - Family - Health - Friends - Spirit. You juggle with these balls.
You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball.
If you drop it, it bounces back. But the other four balls, Health - Family - Friends - Spirit, are made of glass.
If you drop one of them, it will, for sure, stay on the ground at your feet, get cracked, damaged or even broken, shattered, destroyed. It will never be the same again.
You must understand this and be vigilant to maintain balance in your life."

This is a famous excerpt from a speech given by Brian Dyson, CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, at a graduation ceremony at an American university (Georgia Tech Institute) on September 6, 1991.

Moral of the story?

There are certain pillars of our lives that need to be preserved: where work is quite resilient and flexible, other essential aspects of your life are less so...

So how do you go about it? Here are some tips to think about:

Create a clear line between work and your personal life

Blurring is the new scourge that threatens us, because with telecommuting or computer tools, work easily invites itself into our homes. A good work/life balance requires a clear disconnection and a real break between work and personal life.

Organize your time, know how to delegate

To successfully separate your time between work and family, you need to be well organized.

Know how to prioritize your tasks and plan the time to devote to them... Also respect the time scheduled for your private and family life!

And don't be afraid to say no when extra work is offered that may interfere with your plans.

How about delegating a little? Whether at work or at home, don't hesitate to give responsibilities to other people to save time. Share the work, but don't overdo it by completely unloading yourself...

Take time for yourself

Many people have a balanced professional and private life, but in reality, they never rest: they follow a "work, eat, family, leisure, then sleep" routine. Sure, it's balanced, but it's routine and not very restful!

It is necessary to know how to settle down and to have time to oneself to get out of the "daily routine".

Taking the time to breathe, to air your mind is beneficial for your well-being at work! You will be more efficient afterwards.

Take your lunch break! Some people eat in a hurry to get back to their scheduled tasks... Bad habit!

These are special moments far from family or professional obligations, you have to know how to maintain them.

Note: nothing prevents you from eating with your colleagues, but nothing forces you to do so either! We understand each other...

We'll stop there, but the subject is much broader, as you well know.

As we said, finding this balance is quite specific to each person. So I leave it to you to sort out these quick thoughts about the quest for the best work/life balance according to your needs and aspirations at the time.

This may be an opportunity to take a sabbatical or request time off from your employer to think about a fresh start with a good balance between these two essential areas of your life.

It's up to you to decide and make the best decisions, remembering that you are juggling glass balls and a rubber ball...

It's up to you, I'll leave the ball to you (if I've made it...)

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