A recent Globe & Mail article by Doug Saunders entitled “Work? Leisure? It’s all a blur these days” stated, correctly in my view, that “for millions it means that the dividing line between working time and leisure time is becoming vague or non-existent”.
Today’s technology has created a one sided situation. Work has invaded the home and both leisure and family time have suffered. This situation creates stress that negatively impacts the mental health of an individual, as well as creating stressful issues regarding family relationships, which increases stress on the individual.
Is it any wonder that the fastest growing health benefit expense involves stress related illnesses? In addition, short term and long term absences are rising at an alarming rate. The negative impact of these absences on productivity and staff morale is significant. In my experience, if individuals do not have a break from stress either at home or at work, eventually they will experience some form of breakdown.
Since the trend of work migrating to the home is here to stay, employers should try to bring “leisure time” to the workplace. Following are some suggestions that should be seriously considered and if implemented will allow people to be distracted, laugh, smile and feel good about themselves and manage their stress effectively:
Allow employees a specified period for personal time to relax, go for a walk or other similar activity that reduce the stresses of work.
Initiate volunteer involvement in the community during working hours. This relieves stress and also makes those involved feel good about themselves and the company they work for.
Take advantage of opportunities to celebrate successes. Honouring people and celebrating with peers is joyful and healthy.
Provide and encourage people to use common facilities like a lunch room to encourage socialization among staff. This also relieves stress.
Encourage physical activities that are known to reduce stress.
I am certain that there are many other ways of balancing the work/life equation. The important message is that it is simply smart leadership to import into the workplace some of the leisure time we have lost at home.