Work life balance is a hot topic lately.
In fact, studies show that since 2020, the average worker has become more interested in achieving a healthy balance than boosting their salary. Pretty incredible, huh?
It makes sense when you think about it, though. What good is the money in your bank account if you’re always too busy and/or tired to spend it? Answer: not much good.
In this article, we’ll look at seven reasons why work life balance is important. But before we do, let’s talk about what work life balance is—just to make sure we’re on the same page.
What is Work Life Balance?
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, work life balance is: “The amount of time you spend doing your job compared with the amount of time you spend… doing things you enjoy.”
When one pursues their work life and their personal life in equal measure, we say they have a healthy work life balance. When one works significantly more than they relax, spend time with loved ones, or engage in a cherished hobby, we say they have poor work life balance.
It’s easy to think that work life balance doesn’t matter. You have career-related goals to achieve. You don’t have time to slow down. You need to keep grinding to succeed, right?
As we’ll see in the next section, a good work life balance is incredibly valuable. Without it, you probably won’t succeed professionally and your personal life will be a mess.
Let’s talk more about that…
7 Reasons to Prioritize a Healthy Work Life Balance
Proper work life balance isn’t for lazy people. Even the most ambitious professionals will benefit from a healthy lifestyle that includes pursuits outside of the office.
To prove it to you, I’ve listed seven research-backed reasons to prioritize balance in life:
1. Less Stress
Did you know that stress is the fifth biggest cause of death in the U.S.? It’s true. Fortunately, a healthy work life balance will help reduce stress levels, thereby promoting longevity.
To make sure your work life doesn’t creep into your personal life and cause you anxiety, I recommend setting boundaries. What are you unwilling to do? Where will you draw the line?
For example, you could decide to stop working by 7pm every night. Or turn off work-related notifications on the weekend. Or delegate menial tasks to a lower-rung employee.
Whatever you decide to do, stick to your guns. Your boundaries won’t help you if you constantly break them. Draw your line in the stand and refuse to cross it. Doing so will help you achieve the proper work life balance you want, while minimizing stress in your life.
2. Better Mental Health
Guess what happens when you feel stressed out all the time… Your mental health suffers. One of the best mental health tips out there is to reduce your work stress.
Poor mental health can manifest itself in various ways. Some people become agitated. Others experience burnout. Still others become depressed and endure serious illness. At the very least, stress will crowd your mind and make it difficult to make wise decisions.
As described above, poor work life balance leads to elevated stress levels, which can easily result in mental health issues. Luckily, these things can be avoided with balance.
Note: remote workers are more susceptible to stress and mental health issues than in-office workers. Why? Because you live and work in the same building. As such, it can be hard to escape one’s career and focus on personal pursuits and the joys they bring.
This isn’t a referendum on remote work. I fully endorse this working arrangement. I just ask out-of-office employees to pay special attention to their personal stress levels.
3. Better Physical Health
Once you achieve a good work life balance, your physical health will improve, too.
Studies show that balance leads to healthy habits. Put simply, when you have time to pursue regular exercise and prepare healthy meals for yourself, you’re more likely to do these things.
Researchers have also discovered that an imbalanced life can cause terrifying health complications. According to the UCL, those who work ten-plus hours a day (two or three more than average) are 60% more likely to experience angina, heart disease, and heart attacks.
4. Higher Work Engagement
Only 36% of employees in the U.S. are engaged in their work. This is sad, but not surprising. Luckily there’s a solution for low employee engagement: better work life balance.
When workers have time to pursue passions outside of work, they’ll naturally appreciate their jobs more. This appreciation will lead to greater motivation, which, in turn, will result in deeper levels of engagement. This is important because engaged employees are very valuable.
According to McKinsey and Company, engaged employees are 20% to 25% more productive. (More on productivity below.) They also help their organizations achieve 21% greater profitability. (More of success below.) Tell me, who wouldn’t want those things?
Now, I’m not suggesting that you cut team building activities and all other employee engagement strategies. They have their place. What I am saying is that proper work life balance can be just as effective at boosting engagement metrics. It’s definitely worth a try!
5. Greater Productivity
Everyone wants to boost productivity. The question is, how?
There are tons of ways. You could delegate certain tasks to other qualified individuals and/or companies. You could invest in software to help you get more done in less time.
Or, you could make sure you and/or your team eliminate work life imbalance.
While it may seem counterintuitive, work life balance actually improves output. It isn’t hard to see why. When you enjoy your job and feel motivated to complete it every day—both feelings that work life balance can produce—you’ll naturally get more done.
The science backs this up. According to Stanford University, working long hours (AKA 55+ hours a week) results in such a steep decline in productivity it’s basically pointless.
Here’s the truth: you don’t need to work harder to become more productive. You need to prioritize personal time. When you do, greater productivity will happen on its own.
6. Greater Happiness
You’ll never find happiness and fulfillment without work life balance. Its critical for your mental health as well.
Sure, happiness is a fleeting feeling. And it’s not really something that you can quantify. But we all know it when we experience it. And trust me, happy feelings will be few and far between if all you do is work. You need to prioritize family time and your passions as well.
If you own a company, this is especially important. Why? Because happy employees are one of the keys to success. Studies show that happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy employees. And happy salespeople can boost sales by as much as 37%.
Here’s a pro tip for you: to improve your personal happiness, ask your boss for flexible working hours. The opportunity to make your own schedule is totally liberating!
7. More Success
Last but not least, good work life balance leads to greater success.
As we’ve already discussed, healthy balance results in greater employee engagement, productivity, and happiness. These things help propel careers and entire companies forward.
Also of note, by saying no to long hours, you’ll have the energy and drive you need to pursue your dreams—whatever they happen to be. Looking to start your own business? Want to coach your kid’s little league team? Maybe you want to take up a new hobby.
You can’t do these things if you’re chained to a desk all day. Instead, seek balance in your life. Doing so is one of the best ways to achieve the success you long for.
Make Better Work Life Balance Your Goal
As you can see, everyone can benefit from a proper work life balance initiative.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for you to achieve it. Set boundaries for yourself. learn to meditate. Use all of your vacation time. Ask your boss for a more flexible schedule.
If you’re a small business, look for ways to delegate certain activities to other qualified professionals. Hire a personal assistant to handle tedious, everyday tasks. Or a marketing agency to help you connect with your target audience on a larger scale. Or an independent sales team to close lucrative deals.
Whatever you decide to do, know that work life balance is a worthwhile pursuit. Good luck!