Ideas for Leaders #008

Strategies for Successful Work/Life Balance

This is one of our free-to-access content pieces. To gain access to all Ideas for Leaders content please Log In Here or if you are not already a Subscriber then Subscribe Here.

Key Concept

By identifying the patterns and parameters of your own work/life balance, you can create a structure to effectively manage the challenges faced in both these roles. This structure can de-stress, refocus and reenergise a leader and their workforce.

Idea Summary

What are the factors that affect the boundaries between your work and personal life? By understanding those individual work/life patterns and preferences, new strategies can be identified and small changes made that can make a person more engaged, more energised and more effective both on and off the job.

By gaining a clearer picture of your work/life parameters, you can learn to be more effective and reduce stress by trying different techniques and making new choices.

Your work and personal life can be affected by the following factors:

  1. Behaviour regarding interruptions: Understanding the degree to which you allow interruptions from one role to another is crucial.
  2. The centrality of your identities: Work/Life patterns are also driven by the intensity felt around the different roles a person plays (i.e. the degree to which one protects and invests in his/her roles).
  3. Control over your work/life boundaries: How much say do you have over your work/life boundary? This can impact the stress levels you experience. The degree to which the timing, location and permeability of different roles can be controlled makes a huge difference to how one handles their work/life responsibilities.

These three factors - behaviour, identity and control - set the stage for how we manage boundaries between work and life.

Business Application

Once we understand our individual patterns, we can adapt the following five-step process to creating a structure for effectively addressing challenges in our lives:

  1. Identify what is and what is not working for you;
  2. Learn boundary management techniques;
  3. Clarify your goals for a better life;
  4. Get support; and
  5. Track your progress.

Of course, we do not always have complete control over our environments and in such circumstances, self-directed change isn’t always possible. In these cases, individuals must reassess how work gets done, and talk to their co-workers, team members and bosses. In doing so, they should be clear about what would work better for them, and see what’s possible. Even if you end up putting in the same hours, a small improvement in the sense of control over your work can boost energy, focus and productivity.

Human resource (HR) practitioners and managers have a role here too. HR practitioners can institute new policies and change practices to give workers more control, such as including flexitime or telecommuting policies. In this way, they can make a significant difference by ensuring that the organization’s environment is supportive of individual needs to accommodate both work and life. Ultimately, it is the organizations that benefit when individuals feel supported, engaged and effective.

As for managers, they can help employees feel supported by having open discussions about how to manage the interface between work and life, showing that the juggle of their different roles are valid concerns for the organization. Finally, family members and society have a part in this as well; preventing overload is not simply an issue for the individual.

Contact Us




Idea conceived

  • 2011

Idea posted

  • January 2013

DOI number



Real Time Analytics