The National Work-Life Week 2017 took place on 2-6th. October 2017. Did you know about it and are you making the most of your work / life balance?
This week was an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance. The purpose is to get employers to use the week to provide activities for staff, and to showcase their flexible working policies and practices.
It should be the goal of any responsible employer to help their staff find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. Does this actually happen in the work place and does it happen for the business owner?
Feedback from some ICON clients suggests that some business owner’s work-life balance is dangerously out of kilter.
According to a study by insurance provider Simply Business, almost half of the 2,000 individuals surveyed cancel social plans at least once a week, a quarter take less than 10 days’ annual leave and 25% have fallen ill due to stress and overwork.
The effects are likely to go further than physical illness, according to mental health charity Mind. With one in four people experiencing a mental illness each year, business owners need to keep a close eye on their wellbeing.
“Having a good work-life balance, including regularly having time off, is key to staying mentally healthy,” says Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind. “Taking proper breaks allow staff to return refreshed and revived, and small business owners are no exception. Every business owner wants to ensure their business is a success and this can mean putting in the extra hours from time to time. But consistently working long hours and managing an excessive workload can take their toll on our physical and mental health, with the potential to negatively affect business performance.”
But for many small business owners, there simply are not the resources or support needed to enable them to create a healthy balance.
While stress and overwork in itself does not necessarily lead to mental health problems, being exposed to prolonged periods of unmanageable stress can cause or worsen a mental health problem. So how do you spot the signs that a bad week is turning into something more serious?
“The symptoms of unmanageable stress can also be similar to the symptoms of someone experiencing depression and anxiety,” she says.
Symptoms of depression and stress, can be physical as well as emotional and will differ from person to person but may manifest in feelings of isolation, lethargy, lack of self-esteem, restlessness, irritability, hopelessness or a lack of interest in the things you normally enjoy.
Typical symptoms are having trouble sleeping or sleeping a lot, eating more or less than usual, experiencing aches and pains, and drinking more alcohol.
If you are an SME business owner it may be difficult to spot the symptoms as they gradually creep on you over time, and so it may be difficult for colleagues to notice changes in your behaviour.
The key thing is to try to head any serious problems off before they stop you in your tracks. The business should be there to help deliver the rewards that you deserve from taking on the challenge of running your own business and not to put you on a downward spiral.
Often this may be the result of the business not delivering sustainable, profitable growth and so the business owner may end up constantly funding the business which further increases the level of stress. This state is often described in terms of the business owner working ‘harder’ in the business and not ‘smarter’.
It may be time to take stock of your position and to review where you are. Don’t accept a poor work/life balance as the only option available, but take a decision to do something about it before it is too late.
What is the answer? A good option is to critically evaluate your life goals and to see if your business is helping you to achieve these. If not, then time for change. If yes, then well done. In any event, time to review whether your business is helping you to achieve your life goals is no bad thing.