Why can work-life balance either make or break you?
A recent study performed by Kelly School of Business reveals that employees who have so little control over their time and work and are assigned highly stressed jobs are bound to live a shorter life than those who have better control over their life and work. The research was a follow-up to a study made years ago on a group of workers who have been holding jobs for decades and have yet to retire. Factors such as the amount of work, physical and mental demands of the job, time pressure, and job control were scrutinized to find out how these impact on work-life balance. Interestingly, the research yielded some interesting findings that are worth looking into.
Highly stressful vs. Less stressful jobs
One would easily think that a less stressful job poses no threat to the well-being of the person, which is the exact opposite of a highly stressful job. While this may be the usual case, research suggests that a highly stressful work has an adverse effect on the jobholders’ health only if such work provides very little room for decision-making. This means that the stress becomes bearable and manageable when a person is given the freedom to make decisions at work. More importantly, the chances of living a longer life are increased, perhaps because by allowing the person to make his own decisions, he is able to take pride in his abilities, thereby bolstering his self-esteem.
Micromanaging vs. Providing Directions
Who wants to work with your boss breathing down your neck? A micro manager takes comfort from being involved in almost all aspects of his operations — from the simple to the complex kind of issues, because it’s the only way he knows how to stay on top of the situation. For a newbie who doesn’t know anything and needs spoon-feeding, this style of managing works. But for a long-time worker, this is a nightmare and cause of stress. It would seem that being micro-managed triggers a lot of health issues like being overweight or developing a hormonal imbalance. The micro-managed worker is therefore likely to deal with his frustration by binging, drinking, and smoking. On the other hand, when a person is given a leeway to work independently and is just given some guidance, then he is unlikely to experience undue stress.
Health Issues vs. Work Issues
Given the possible health problems that may arise out of NOT being given control over one’s job, we have to look at yet another area that is directly affected by stress on the job, and that is the job itself. Stress in itself is not always bad if it affords you the opportunity to be autonomous to be able to seek ways of solving work problems and getting the job done. Overcoming the challenges at work on your own, without someone doing it for you or barking instructions at you is undoubtedly an ego-booster and confidence-builder. The pain turns into a joy that no amount of binging or unwinding can cure.
Getting things done vs. Getting a life
Getting work done leaves a feeling of fulfillment, especially if a lot of effort is put into it. Unless you’re lazy and likes to just bum around, a typical worker finds satisfaction from the thought that he did a fine job and met the deadline. Even more satisfying is cashing in on your day’s work and having your boss and clients express their nod of approval. But if you’ve been experiencing the usual grind for quite a long time, you can’t help but feel the pressure from time to time, particularly on certain occasions when the unexpected happens, or if problems present themselves that add to the stress. Whenever you experience such stress, there isn’t another way but to deal with it head-on, and give yourself a pat on the back for overcoming it. And then you seek comfort from your time-off with yourself, family, or friends, and breath a sigh of relief that you did good back at work.
The cycle repeats itself over and again, until you find that middle ground to keep you balanced. You’re the only one who would know what type of work stressors fuel your energy and how to best react to them. And that is why it’s a make or break situation.