Work-life balance is the concept that both work and non-work commitments and activities are critical to living a balanced, meaningful life. As a society, we are beginning to recognize the importance of achieving this balance, pushing back against a culture that has glorified “workaholics.”
How does work-life balance relate to financial planning? It actually has many connections. If your work-life balance is off and you do face burnout and quit, that will obviously have a major effect on your income but will also affect any retirement plan you have through work, etc. Work-life balance is also a question to ponder when you’re deciding how to structure your day in retirement. Will you still want to work in retirement? Volunteer? Will you need some kind of schedule in your life after retirement?
Burnout and Work-Life Balance
Employees who do not have work-life balance are likely to face job burnout, which is when employees are stressed, unhappy and unable to work efficiently due to feeling like they can never escape the stresses of their job.
Workplace studies have shown that employees with work-life balance are more productive. While burned-out employees may be productive for brief periods of time due to stress motivating them to action, this effect is unsustainable, and employees eventually lose their motivation if they do not also spend quality time with people outside of work.
Assessing Your Own Burnout
What is your current balance between your work responsibilities and the rest of your life? Do you find yourself unable to spend as much time as you would like with your family or other loved ones?
One contributor to burnout is feeling like work must always take priority over family obligations and that you must always be “on the clock.” How much of your time and schedule are in your control can also influence your feelings of balance. For many employees, their actual hours worked are not the source of stress but rather never feeling completely free of work commitments after the working day is over. Having barriers or boundaries between work and family is important psychologically and allows employees to recover and reconnect with their family, friends and hobbies.
Increasing Your Work-Life Balance
There are many ways to change how you work and increase your work-life balance.
First, try to make your supervisor your ally. He or she should be supportive of reasonable changes you want to make in your workflow and responsibilities if these changes will enable you to become a more motivated, productive employee who is committed to the organization. You could also explore re-specializing for a different job position within your company that would create less stress or allow you to respond to after-hours work emails the next day rather than as soon as you receive them.
Another way to increase your work-life balance is to take control over your work time. When you do not feel chained to other people’s schedules, you can minimize delays that require you to spend more time at work than should be necessary to complete your daily tasks. Begin establishing boundaries on how you will allow your co-workers to treat your time. You may consider declining their last-minute requests or not delaying meetings even when some employees show up late.
You may find that others begin to respect you and your time more when you enforce the reasonable expectations you have communicated. Your purpose is never to be rude or inconsiderate but to expect in return the same respect you afford others.
Working with a Financial Advisor
Personal financial advisors can be a major source of support and direction as you change your life in order to increase your work-family balance.
Strategizing How to Meet Your Goals
Financial advisors can spark discussions and self-reflection that remind you why you have chosen this career path in the first place. For example, your goals may be to support a desired lifestyle, to support your family and provide them financial security, or to make a difference in the world. Reconnecting with your purpose can allow you to frame your work in the context of your larger life goals.
If you realize that your current job or career path does not fulfill these needs, you may need to establish and work toward career change goals. If you are not able to immediately change jobs or if you will need to take a pay cut, a financial advisor can help you establish savings goals to help ensure you will be able to provide for your family’s needs when you make this career shift.
If your goals involve spending more time with your loved ones, a financial advisor can project the monetary cost of meeting these goals. You may find the motivation to increase your work-life balance if you know that you are working toward funding your travel to visit your loved ones or to take vacations with them. An advisor can also provide projections of how much these goals might reasonably cost. You might find that you are happy to reduce your other spending if it allows you to save more money to spend time with your family.
Negotiating Employee Benefits
Whether you are attempting to make changes in your current job or are seeking a new job, a financial advisor can help you evaluate if a non-salary compensation discussion with your employer would allow you to spend more time with your family. Financial advisors can also help determine employee benefits you may not realize you qualify for that would improve your work-life balance, such as dependent care benefits or parental leave.
At your current job, your performance review may be an appropriate time to discuss your job benefits. You might request more time off as a benefit in lieu of a larger salary raise, or you may be able to negotiate working from home on certain days of the week.
If you are switching jobs, make vacation time a priority in your negotiations and counteroffer the proposed benefits with more weeks of time off. Often, employers are more willing to offer this benefit than they are to increase a salary offer. Remember that your satisfaction with the job may depend much more on its work-family balance than on relatively minor salary differences.
If you must meet all your work demands at the expense of spending quality time with your family, improving your work-life balance should be a priority, not an afterthought.
Working with a financial advisor to walk through your financial planning concerns and review your plan can take one more thing off your to-do list so you can spend time with family.
Remember, retirement – and life in general – is not just about investments. How to structure your day in retirement, as well as when you are still working, can be just as important to your long-term success.
This material is provided by PAX Financial Group, LLC. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The information herein has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note: Investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments will fluctuate and when redeemed may be worth more or less than when originally invested. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All market indices discussed are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment. Indices do not incur management fees, costs and expenses, and cannot be invested into directly. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results.