After a week of grueling work at the office, you have stepped into a theatre to watch a movie on a quaint Saturday evening. Suddenly, your phone rings just minutes before the nail-biting climax. The phone’s screen reads “Boss.” Scared and frustrated, you step out of the hall, inevitably missing the climax, just to learn that they need you at the office for some last minute changes.
These ‘last minute changes’ come in different forms for different working professionals, and more often than not, visit us at unwelcoming times — times when we just want to relax.
For India’s working professionals, maintaining an ideal work-life balance is like a mirage in a desert — mostly because they think that it is impossible to attain. Long work hours, missed calls from bosses, messages, piled up emails, busy weekends and sleepless nights are all the ‘perks’ of doing well at work, or so we have been told.
The advent of technology has made things progressively worse for India’s working population. While it makes life easier for professionals at times, it also blurs the lines between personal life and work life, which causes anxiety, depression and physical ailments.
Monster India conducted a study, ‘Understanding Work-Life Balance’ which shows that over half of the Indian professionals (60%), rate their current work-life balance as “average to terrible.” The global employment portal conducted the study with over 2000 working professionals across India. What’s more worrisome is the fact that a whopping 67% of the respondents said that they either sometimes, often or always think about work when not at work.
Many tend to drag work to their personal space and think about it, even when not required. The outcome is inevitable anxiety and hypertension which ends up giving us sleepless nights. What professionals fail to remember is that the key to maintaining a good work-life balance begins from no one but themselves. While work pressure is undeniable, the onus to separate personal from professional lies with us. The tendency of professionals to never switch off from work ultimately catapults to distress in relationships.
Around half of the respondents, who are in a relationship, revealed that the lack of work-life balance makes them or their partners irritable ill-tempered. On the flip side, 54% of respondents said that they were single and our ‘handy’ mobile phones and laptops might have something to do with it. One-third of the young professionals find technology (laptops and mobile phones) a hindrance in managing family with work commitments, revealed the study.
Certain habitual changes post work can make us happier, but what about the grueling hours we spend at work? As much as 75% of the professionals said that their workplace doesn’t have a separate work life balance policy and another 25% are not even aware of such a policy. Bosses play an integral part in any organisation and only 48% said that their managers help in balancing their work and life and another 37% said that they weren’t that lucky. To add to all the woes, about 75% of the respondents on an average spend minimum an hour and a maximum of more than two hours on the road travelling to work. Another 70% said that they would like to work from home to avoid the long commute.
Abhijeet Mukherjee, CEO, Monster India, APAC & Gulf said, “If, there’s one thing that comes out distinct in this survey is a dichotomy. At one level, 60% of Indian respondents feel that they balance their work and life; while on the other hand, as high as about 78% respondents would like to be ‘segmentors’ and not ‘blenders’ i.e. clearly defined boundaries between their personal and work lives and not blurring the line.”
An amalgamation of all these issues results in work-induced ailments like Lack of sleep (17%), depression (16%), anxiety & irritability (9%), hypertension (4.5%). Back pain (15%), frequent headaches & fatigue (14%), and obesity (5%) came up as other stress-related physical illnesses.
Work-life balance may be an alien concept to many who fully do not understand its implications. For at least 41% of the respondents, ‘flexible work hours’ came as the number one response to their definition of work-life balance and 39% of the professionals think that leaving work on time and not bringing work home enshrines a good work-life balance.
In India, the lack of a work-life balance is not new, however, what’s troublesome is that we have come to terms with it. To raise awareness on the issue and push both professionals and employers to take up the matter seriously, Monster India has launched the #WorkLifeBalance campaign. Mukherjee added, “Amongst the many other insights what comes through for me is the need to understand the concept of work-life balance and define it well.”