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How to improve the quality of work life?

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An interesting depiction of a balanced work-life balance is given in a Harvard Business Review Guide to Work-Life Balance:

“If yourself is a pie, how big of a bite does your work take out of it?” 

So if you think of your life as a pie, you should have an equal slice of pie dedicated to work, family time, leisure time, etc. However, sometimes you end up taking a large bite of work due to an expected issue at your job.

To stop letting work be in absolute control, you should try to improve the quality of your work life.

Thereby, to help you out achieve that, we’ll discuss the following:

  • The quality of work life explained,
  • The importance of work life, and
  • How to enhance the quality of your work life.

What is the quality of work life?

J. Lloyd Suttle, the Vice Provost at Yale University, explained the quality of work life as the following:

Quality of work life is the degree to which members of a particular organization are able to satisfy important personal needs through their experiences in the organization”.

Simply put, the quality of work life encompasses one’s feelings about their job and work dimensions such as:

  • Working conditions,
  • Security,
  • Organizational and interpersonal relationships, and
  • Rewards and benefits. 

Finally, one of the most prominent elements of work-life quality also includes achieving a healthy work-life balance.

Why is the quality of work life important?

Apart from positively affecting the nature of one’s life, the quality of work life is also beneficial due to the following reasons:

Reason #1: Better quality of work life increases productivity 

By keeping a proper balance between work and private life, employees are less likely to suffer from overworking, and thereby perform better at work. 

Reason #2: Better quality of work life attracts and retains employees

When thinking about providing a better work-life quality to their workers, employers may consider some alternative work schedules such as remote, hybrid, 4-day workweek, and many others. Such perks boost employee morale and reduce turnover.

Reason #3: Better quality of work life decreases absenteeism 

Together with offering flexible work arrangements, employers should also give extra attention to promoting healthy work-life balance in the workplace. Such practices are proven to be beneficial in lowering employee absenteeism.

Reason #4: Better quality of work life improves quality of life

Even though it might seem easier said than done, workers will notice an increased quality of life once they learn how to separate work from personal life. 

7 Dimensions influencing the quality of your wellbeing

Authors of the HBR Guide to Work-Life Balance, Eric C. Sinoway and Howard Stevenson, defined 7 dimensions of one’s life as a useful way of achieving a more balanced lifestyle — and they include:

  1. Family — Parents, children, siblings, in-laws
  2. Social and community — Friends and general community involvement
  3. Spiritual — Religion, philosophy, emotions
  4. Physical — Health and well-being
  5. Material — Possessions
  6. Avocational — Hobbies and other non-work activities
  7. Career — Short and long-term plans

The authors also suggest carefully reviewing each dimension by asking yourself these 3 questions:

  1. Who do I want to be in this part of my life?
  2. How much do I want to experience this dimension?
  3. How important is this dimension relative to the others?

These questions will help you decide how you want to spend each of these seven elements of life. 

The real-life experience of the 7-dimension concept

Howard Stevenson’s experience tells us that when choosing which dimension to deal with, we need to think about its value first. For instance, you can spend an hour playing with your children or an hour playing basketball with your friends. The value would be different in each case — he further states.

Also, you must make a distinction between needs — food, shelter, health, and wants — things you crave but can live without. 

How can you improve the quality of your life?

In order to lead a more fulfilling life, you’ll need to rethink both your work habits and how you spend your after-work hours.

That’s why the following tips focus on both areas.

Tip #1: Be smart with small habits 

As a transformational executive coach and the author of Work-Life Brilliance, Denise R. Green states most people are compromising their work and free time because they make decisions based on fear and past conditioning.

Instead of giving attention to fear, one should “take a conscious inventory” of how they spend their time.

“If you spend time with family, but you’re on tech or wishing you were somewhere else, your time is wasted”.

Green recommends calculating the hours you spend on certain activities to have a better insight into how you spend your time throughout the day.

Tip #2: Remember that a little goes a long way

According to Nigel Marsh, a consultant, author, and entrepreneur, the key to a better work-life balance includes:

  • Being efficient with your time,
  • Not adopting someone else’s daily routines (such as those of a celebrity), and
  • Not focusing on being busy but trying to find meaning in life.

Tip #3: Don’t think about work outside working hours

According to the HBR Guide to Work-Life Balance, to be able to avoid working during off hours, one should:

  • Create a plan for the following workday and stick to it,
  • Set a dedicated workspace (this applies to remote workers), and
  • Avoid checking emails when you are not working (it might seem naive, but it saves you from headaches).

Tip #4: Try to find the perfect work-life balance

The Harvard Business School study on work-life balance and quality gathered 4,000 executives from around the world. According to their results, 5 major areas ensure a better work-life balance. Let’s see what these areas are.

Area #1: Define success for yourself

For some examinees, success meant climbing up the corporate ladder, while for others being successful mirrored in raising a family, and similar. 

Once you figure out what success means to you, you’ll be able to set a long-term goal

If you strive toward starting your own business, you’ll have to accept working late hours. 

In those moments, remember that working towards your professional goal usually requires hard work.

Area #2: Don’t be afraid to unplug

Be reachable to your team, but set some ground rules like advising your team to call you only in case of emergency. 

That way, you won’t miss out on family time, but you’ll still be available if anything unexpected comes up.

On the other hand, if you’re not an executive, you should be fully available via communication channels during your working hours and turn off your notifications after work.

Area #3: Build support networks

Many participants from the survey said that when they were dealing with stressful situations at work — their bosses and coworkers were compassionate. 

Therefore, don’t hesitate to seek help from both your loved ones and coworkers.

Area #4: Carefully consider your location

Making decisions about relocating for work can be extremely difficult, especially if you have a partner or you’re a parent. 

According to one HBR study, many surveyed executives said they had to reject an international job vacancy:

  • 32% of them did that because they didn’t want to relocate their families, and
  • 28% of them did that to protect their marriages.

Don’t be afraid to discuss this matter with your partner — but also think about your long-term professional goals.

Area #5: Collaborate with your partner

Last but not least, consult with your partner about bigger work-related decisions. Improving your quality of life means considering not just your work habits but human aspects as well.

Further reading

This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Clockify blog.
To learn more about improving the quality of your work life, we recommend reading the full article: