Group of business people walking to work

Work-Life Integration vs. Work-Life Balance

For decades, employees of all backgrounds have chased the same elusive ideal: work-life balance. Is it achievable or is it a remnant of the 20th century?

Work-life balance is an alignment of personal and professional responsibilities. The goal is to comfortably participate in both spaces, without one impeding the other. Work-life balance looks different for everyone, but the intention is always the same.

In the new millennium, traditional work-life has evolved. It no longer adheres to a 9-to-5 schedule, or even a physical office space. With the advancement of technology, “taking work home” has become common practice. In some cases, home is the office. Because of this, the separate but equal approach of work-life balance has moved toward work-life integration. It’s a non-binary concept in which your personal and professional lives complement one another leading to a more harmonious existence.

Today, constant contact is normal. Smartphones have allowed an entire generation to carry their workload in their pocket. No matter the day or time, there are always emails or text messages waiting for a response. That continuous stimulation, can make it difficult to set boundaries necessary for a successful work-life balance. Depending on the industry and job responsibilities, work-life integration may be more realistic.

So, how can employers help? It’s been said that happy individuals are more effective workers. According to one study, they experience a 20 percent increase in productivity. Therefore, some companies are providing employee assistance programs to encourage personal growth and family time. They offer tuition reimbursements, discounted gym memberships, and more attractive vacation packages.

Aside from salary, flexibility has become a top priority amongst job seekers. Being able to alter a schedule for emergencies or unexpected events is crucial. In a recent survey, 96 percent of 1,583 white-collar professionals said they need more flexibility but only 47 percent said they have access to it. Employers have taken note, and many are choosing to bridge the gap.

Employee well-being is vital to every business’ success. Not only does it affect the bottom line, but it influences company culture. A lot of institutions are embracing a virtual office model that allows employees to work from anywhere. With a stable internet connection, they can utilize online management tools to ensure tasks are completed on time. Plus, there’s always an open line of communication via phone, email, or video chat.

Another way to aid integration is to streamline duties. Avoid busy work and play to employees’ strengths. What are their main interests? What areas do they excel in? Observe their skills and determine how they could be an asset. Meaningful work that piques an employee’s interest will keep them engaged and on track.

Overall, the secret to work-life integration is collaboration. Both employers and employees should aim for an environment that promotes synergy and inspires balance in every facet of their lives.

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Photo Credit: Piranka

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