On the 7th of August, Kisi, an American IoT company specialising in wireless security revealed the results of their study on global cities with the best (and thus the worst) work-life balance in 2019.
In the study, they compared 40 global cities against one another to achieve the results they got. While the list isn’t exhaustive, cities in South and North America, East Asia, Nordic countries and SouthEast Asia were reported on.
So, it’s to be expected that Malaysia’s capital and biggest city Kuala Lumpur is on the list. How then did we fare?
Well… it’s not looking too good for us.
First off, we’re ranked the 4th when it comes to the most overworked cities on the list. Secondly, we’re last on the list in terms of work-life balance with a score of 1 compared to Helsinki’s 100.
But is work-life balance really all that important? The internet seems divided in opinion and it’s been a debate for years, with sociologists weighing in too.
Work-Life Balance Advocates
Work-life balance is often heralded to be this thing that we should all aim to achieve as employees, and for employers to provide to their employees.
One of the main reasons why people are for work-life balance is because they claim it enables them to be more involved with friends and family.
My friends who often work overtime complain that it’s hard for them to make dinner plans as they usually don’t even know what time they’re able to leave the office.
Work-life balance can also give an individual time to care for their health, whether mental or physical.
Ideally, by being able to set aside time for both work and relaxation, you’ll keep burnout at bay.
Some people even say that having work-life balance enables them to be more productive at work as they go into the office with a more positive attitude thanks to a set downtime schedule.
You may also begin to find that you’re enjoying your work more; you stop dreading the beginning of the workweek and instead look forward to getting those projects or meetings done.
Work-Life Balance Naysayers
However, there have also been arguments against this whole notion of work-life balance, with some of the top ones being that it implies work isn’t a part of life and that finding balance is futile as humans are prone to change and life throws curveballs at you often.
In constantly pursuing that balance, you’re more likely to fall into a pit of negativity when unexpected things throw you off your game, and I think we can all guess what happens when you’re constantly finding yourself in that pit.
While overworking is undoubtedly a one-way ticket to burnout, so is the stress that results from always finding yourself falling short of self-set expectations.
Work-Life Balance Might Be A Myth, But Burnout Isn’t
No matter how much we argue on whether or not work-life balance is a myth, burnout is a very real thing that can happen if we don’t prioritise our wellbeing first.
Just this May, burnout was recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a medical condition in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
If you’re on the verge of a burnout, here are some things you could and should do.
First of all: pause, plan and prioritise. This goes for both your professional and personal life. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by a mountain of work or home errands you need to keep up with, you should take a minute or two to make a plan or list.
This will help you put your thoughts into words that you can then review to prioritise some over the others. You’ll also be able to optimise your time for maximum productivity once you’ve set time boundaries for each task (and no, multitasking doesn’t work).
If better time management doesn’t quite solve your issue, then it may be time to communicate with your superior(s) at work. You need to let them know how you’re feeling, why you might be feeling that way, and work out a solution to your predicament together.
Ideally, they should be understanding and supportive towards you, perhaps even going so far as to make organisational changes for better employee wellbeing if this issue is common in the office.
If they’re adamant that your burnout is a personal problem and not an occupational one, you should probably look for employment in a better company that values its employees as humans, not machines.
While the above 2 are things you can do on your own, you need to understand that burnout isn’t a battle you need to fight on your own.
It’s okay to ask for help, whether it’s from a colleague or loved ones. However, the best course of action would be to seek professional help.
Mental health professionals are more well-equipped to help you handle your stress and overcome burnout, but if you’re not sure where to start, reaching out to local mental health organisations can be the right first step.
Of course, employees aren’t the only ones at risk of burnout. Any working professional runs the risk of tumbling headfirst into burnout, and employers aren’t immune to it.
That being said, more often than not we hear of employees suffering from burnout thanks to inconsiderate bosses and unreasonable work culture.
If you’re an employer who’s just realised that you’re that kind of boss and want to change things, here are 5 actions you can take to make work suck less for your employees and keep the burnout at bay.
- You can read more of what we’ve written about work-life balance here.
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