Association for Project Management
How the work life balance enhances wellbeing, productivity and ultimately projects
For women working in the project profession, the issue of work-life balance can be a challenge. But what is a ‘good’ work-life balance, how do we achieve it and what will that do for us, our projects and our organisations.
The importance of an effective work life balance can ensure that people feel fulfilled, refreshed, and productive in their day to day lives and can enhance wellbeing and productivity.
The work life balance
Work-life balance in the Oxford Dictionary is described as:
The division of one’s time between working and family or leisure activities.
“He needs to get his work-life balance right”
How to create a better work life balance for project professionals
First, to gain the work life balance, it is important to understand all the elements that are part of your life and how much time is spent on each. If you were to list all the activities and time spent in your average week, how would it look e.g.
- Time with family
- Work, travelling
- Shopping, cooking
- Exercising, walking, fresh air
- Friends, socialising
- Household jobs, cleaning, maintenance
- Volunteering, clubs, and groups.
Then consider the following three questions:
- Which areas enhance, bring you joy, rest and benefit your health and wellbeing?
- How do you feel after each of these activities - can you increase those that are good for you i.e., exercise and fresh air?
- Are there areas that you would like to spend more or less of your time?
Workplaces can encourage the work life balance to retain and attract the best talent
The expectations for employers to provide a positive, inclusive and flexible environment for their employees in which to work have increased significantly over the last few years, compounded by the enforced ‘work from home’ mandate during Covid-19. A few examples of how this is being done are:
- Hybrid working with a combination of office, on site and home working with provision of technology for remote working
- Leaders in business setting examples for working flexibly to attend family events, parents’ evenings, sports days, school runs, etc.
- Encouraging women back to the workplace following maternity leave i.e., career returners programme with family friendly mentors/buddies
- Flexible working policies
- Focus on outputs and results rather than presenteeism
- Lifestyle options and benefits i.e., gym memberships, childcare vouchers, cycle schemes.
Family friendly policies with career break opportunities for both parents. Equality for parental leave
- Promotion and advertising of lifestyle and family friendly policies in company strategies and recruitment.
Business benefits to encourage the work life balance
The employer benefits when their employees feel valued and appreciated. These benefits can include:
- Talent attraction and greater pool of skills for businesses
- Retention of knowledge, skills, and experience
- Greater productivity
- Strong employer and employee relationships, flexibility depending on business needs
- Reduced staff turnover
- Healthy and happier productive employees
- Increased inclusion and diversity
- Increased wellbeing for employees
- Strong employer brand ensuring a go-to company attracting a wider pool of talent
- Reduced hiring and training costs
- Loyal and valued workforce.
What should we all hope to achieve through the work life balance
The joys of the work life balance can ensure you feel refreshed and invigorated when returning to work and prioritising the time for various activities can increase your physical and mental wellbeing.
Many companies are making flexible, and hybrid working a top priority which will help to retain and attract female talent in primarily male dominated fields such as construction, law and IT.
Project management can be an excellent career pathway, enjoying a career that works flexibly and with variety.
With a greater requirement on project management likely to increase, an ongoing focus on sustainability and Net Zero 2050, provision for opportunities of an effective work life balance can also increase diversity and strengthen project management availability.
If trying to achieve a balance feels too pressured, there is another school of thought which suggests that it could be considered that we have “one life”, where all activities in our lives (work and personal) are accepted as day-to-day and blended. The need to let go of expectations and stereotypes, therefore being open-minded in how your life should be. This acceptance can also lead towards a positive mindset.
The benefits that the work life balance can bring, provides the opportunity to enhance health and wellbeing, with effective talent retention and attraction enabling businesses to succeed and improving people’s lives.
APM Women in Project Management Specific Interest Group (WiPM SIG) committee
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