Work-Life Balance. It’s a topic on the minds of many in our technologically integrated society. A 2009 study from Harvard Business Review showed that 94% of professional adults work over 50 hours a week, and spend 20+ hours a week checking their work email outside of the office. Everyone has different ideas for what it means to have a good work-life balance, but for many, they’re still trying to identify how to make that balance happen. We sat down with local expert Bob VandePol, Executive Director of the Pine Rest Employee Assistance Program for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services to hear his take on how to find work-life balance.
Q&A with Bob VandePol
How do you define work-life balance?
In today’s technological society, I think work-life integration is a better term. It’s really hard to be a person and an employee at the same time. There are things at home that distract us, fatigue us, upset us, and the same goes at work. I think we can be both an employee and a person, so long as we are intentional about how we address both.
It’s a huge mistake to only view work as a way to meet financial goals. Hopefully work has greater meaning to you than that. It’s also a mistake to view home as only a place to recharge your batteries and prepare for another day of work. I think it’s important to be present and fully engaged in both.
What are some things I can do every day to foster a good work-life integration?
I have five things I try to do every day: faith, family, friends, fitness, fun. If I do these things every day, I don’t slip back into checking my email on my phone or opening my laptop after work.
A lot of people who say they don’t have a work-life balance actually feel that way because they don’t have much of a life outside of work. Find a hobby and engage with friends and family. If you don’t fill the empty space in your life with something meaningful, you will fall back into work.
Also, find ways to destress at work. Take a moment to breathe, go for a walk, or spend some time with the funniest colleague you have.
How can I be intentional about creating a healthy work-life integration?
Think about how many hours a week do you want to work. This includes travel time and checking your email on your phone. If you aren’t intentional, it’ll creep up on you, just like any other unhealthy habit in life.
Do you have boundaries at work? Do you constantly get calls and texts from your family asking what’s for dinner tonight? Set some boundaries at work about personal communication. Maybe it’s no texts unless it’s an emergency, or you can only talk on your lunch break. The same goes for being at home. Do your colleagues respect that you are at home?
Pine Rest offers an Employee Assistance Program. Are there resources in this program that could be helpful to those struggling with work-life integration?
The Employee Assistance Program offers a variety of services to all clients and anyone in their household. One is a hotline, if someone is really fried and is looking for one-time support, they can dial a number and talk to a clinician. If you want to speak to someone in person, we offer face-to-face counseling.
It’s not always about behavioral health issues. People can use the EAP to navigate stressful situations in their personal or professional life. Maybe your spouse got a new job that requires a lot of travel, and you need support in navigating this lifestyle change. Maybe your work in an office of workaholics and need assistance in setting boundaries, we can help provide you with language for that. You can visit one of our clinics or just hop on your phone. We have HIPPA compliant facetime-like counseling that you can utilize on your phone. We also offer legal consultation, financial consultation, elder care consultation and more.
Biggest piece of advice for when you are struggling with balance?
Sometimes, you just need to say NO!
To learn more about the Employee Assistance Program, visit pinerest.org/eap.