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Build Your Career Work-Life Balance

Despite Connectedness, Work-Life Balance Still a Priority for Many

Despite Connectedness, Work-Life Balance Still a Priority for Many
Credit: Deamies For Sale/Shutterstock

Despite the prevalence of technology that makes it possible for workers to be connected to the office even during time off, finding a better work-life balance is still a key priority for many employees.

Nearly 55 percent of the professionals surveyed in a new study by staffing firm Robert Half have increased their commitment to their personal life over the past year. Just 5 percent of those surveyed are putting in less effort into finding a healthier balance between their work and personal lives.

"In a strong job market, professionals have more confidence in their career prospects, which gives them the breathing room to focus on interests outside of work," Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, said in a statement. "Companies that offer perks to help with work-life balance, such as generous vacation policies or the ability to telecommute, have a recruiting edge."

Even though they are focused on improving their work-life balance, many workers are also increasing their allegiance to their professional lives. The research found that, compared with a year ago, 38 percent of those surveyed are more committed to their career, 34 percent are more committed to their job and 31 percent have made more of a commitment to their company.

Overall, it's younger employees who are making a bigger commitment to both their personal and professional lives. A greater percentage of the professionals ages 18 to 34 were more committed in each of the categories than their peers over age 35. [Want Work-Life Balance? Define It For Yourself ]

In general, McDonald believes maintaining a good work-life balance is critical for all professionals.

"With the ability to check in anytime and anywhere, it can be tempting to stay engaged with work around the clock," McDonald said. "This hyperconnectedness isn't necessarily healthy and can lead to burnout."

To help employees achieve a better balance, Robert Half offered several tips:

  • Use restraint. For many people, it is natural to respond quickly to an email or phone call at night or over the weekend. Robert Half recommends you think carefully before responding — consider whether the situation can wait until the next day, or Monday, if it's the weekend. This is especially critical for bosses. Managers who respond around the clock send a message to their employees that they should be doing the same.
     
  • Take advantage of flexible options. One way to find a better work-life balance is through telecommuting or flexible work schedules. With an increasing number of employers offering these perks, it is important to investigate whether these options are available to you.
     
  • Use vacation time wisely. When you do take vacation time, try to disconnect as much as possible. Consider taking a trip where you can't be accessible at all. If you have to be available, set specific times for checking in, and stick to that schedule.
     
  • Don't let projects drag on. When you have critical tasks to work on, make sure you set aside distraction-free time to complete them.  A constant stream of email, instant messages and other communication can make it hard to focus. This often results in project delays, which also cut into the time you could be spending away from the office.

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. employees working in an office environment.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.