Why Work-Life Balance in the U.S. Is Steadily Declining
Work-life balance. It has been the professional it-phrase for the past few of years. From how-to books to meditation apps and even company-sponsored initiatives like unlimited vacation, employers and employees alike have been trying to strike a balance between their personal and professional lives. And it seems to be working. Or is it?
According to employee reviews on Glassdoor, work-life balance is not what it used to be. Despite the best efforts of executives and an upgraded nomenclature (“work-life fit”), American workers continue to struggle with stress. But why? What’s missing from our jobs, or rather, is it in our personal lives?
First, let’s explore the data.
The steady decline of work-life balance from 2009 to 2016
Today on Glassdoor, the average work-life balance rating is 3.2, on a 5-point scale (1.0=very dissatisfied, 3.0=OK, 5.0=very satisfied). However, when we isolate ratings to those just from 2009, the average work-life balance rating was 3.5. In 2016, the rating has fallen to 3.2. While this may seem modest, keep in mind each year Glassdoor gathers thousands upon thousands of work-life balance data points from employees so even a small increase at this kind of scale is quite notable. Work-life balance ratings have been holding at a 3.2 for the past 4 years, and they sat at a 3.4 in 2010 through 2012.
[Related: 29 Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance (2016)]
We also looked at other employee workplace ratings that gauge career opportunity, compensations and benefits, senior leadership, culture and values and overall company rating and found that they are slipping as well.Satisfaction with compensation and benefits, for example, has slightly declined from 3.3 in 2009 to 3.2 in 2016 which shines a light on the fact that compensation doesn’t have too much of an effect on employee satisfaction.
Why is work-life balance declining?
Since we live in the digital age, it’s easy for employees to be connected to their work 24/7. All day every day we receive e-mails from our boss, notifications from our work chats and use our calendars for reminders and scheduling–all on our smartphones.
So thanks to technology, employees often check their e-mail every few minutes and constantly put in extra hours on nights, weekends and even when they’re out on vacation. Ask yourself this–when was the last time you checked your e-mail or a work chat? Chances are, it was before, during or will be after you finish reading this article. That’s how wired we are to both our smartphones, and our jobs.
How to maintain work-life balance?
If you need help maintaining a healthy work-life balance, remember that it’s all about setting goals and expectations between you and your manager. By having a good, open communication process with your boss, you’ll better understand what they expect of you, which makes it easier to manage your work life with your personal life. The more clear your boss is to you, and the more clear you are to them, the healthier that work life balance is going to feel.
But, unfortunately, not every job works this way. Inevitably, there are some roles that may require more attention during and out of normal office hours. If you’re not the type who can and wants this kind of schedule, that’s something to consider before accepting a job. So before accepting an offer, research the position and make sure you fully understand the hours that are expected in the role, where and how you can get their work done, and the overall nature of the job.
TELL US! What’s the work-life balance like for your job? Let others know by sharing a review.