The irony of work-life balance. Are we counterintuitive and we don’t even know it?

In the fast-paced world of hospitality industry, the concept of work-life balance has gained significant attention in recent years. We often hear leaders and employees talking about the importance of maintaining a healthy equilibrium between our professional and personal lives. While this focus on balance is undoubtedly commendable, it raises a vital question: do we focus on ‘life’ more than ‘work’?

As a result of the pandemic, people were given a lot of time to think and reconsider what they wanted out of their work. We now find ourselves in an era where employees are seeking balance, leaving employers little choice but to support this in their workplace. Work-life balance has become a societal ask – it sounds pretty simple, but have we got this right?

With this new era, the question we must ask is whether companies and leaders are listening to employees’ desires and as a result are placing much of the focus on the ‘life’ aspect, and lacking attention on the ‘work’ contributing factor?Employers today are increasingly recognising the importance of providing comprehensive work benefits to their employees. In response to the evolving expectations and needs of the workforce, many companies are going above and beyond traditional compensation packages. These enhanced benefits include flexible work arrangements, generous parental leave policies, comprehensive healthcare, mental health support, wellness programmes, and professional development opportunities. These benefits have been key to attracting top talent but also fostering a culture of employee’s well-being and engagement. This shift towards prioritising the holistic needs of their team reflects a growing awareness that a satisfied and supported team is more productive, loyal, and likely to contribute too the long-term success of the business. But by focusing on ‘life’ as employers, are we being one-sided and neglecting the other side of the coin: ‘work’?

Employers in effect, could offer unlimited holidays as part of a package to their employees, but is this counterintuitive if the moment they come back from holiday, the employee feels overwhelmed and overworked? Research has shown that stress due to unsustainable workload is the number one reason for staff turnover and burnout, exemplifying that the ‘work’ element may need to be challenged and questioned more in businesses. Employees can have a work package with all the benefits, but is this undone and therefore counterintuitive if we leave them feeling exhausted from an unbearable workload?

The Hospitality industry thrives on the dedication and passion of its employees, however, there needs to be recognition that true work-life balance is more than just a buzzword. There are two sides of the coin that need attention to be paid to, by focusing on one, we do not automatically ‘fix’ the other side:both need work. By shifting the emphasis from overworking during the “work” part to promoting a rich and fulfilling “life” outside of work, we can create a healthier, more sustainable,and ultimately, successful team.

Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality