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What Exactly Does Work-Life Balance Mean?

Published February 02, 2021 (last updated May 20, 2022) - NZ Operations Manager

You are likely to hear the phrase “work-life balance” almost every day. The expression might describe the idea about employers offering their employees flexible and accommodative working hours or employees maximising their time off from work. 

Ideas about work-home balance differ among people. It becomes difficult to have a universal definition since the idea about “work-home balance” is personal.

Additionally, the definition keeps changing with time, and between different generations. The baby boomers’ definition of “work-home balance” is different from that of Generation X and Millennials. 

An Evolving Ideology  

According to Forbes, work-life balance is an ever-evolving idea as the workforce keeps changing. Most baby boomers have retired or are on the verge of retirement. Generation Xers are also becoming fewer. 

It is the Millennials who make a large proportion of the workforce. The numbers are expected to hit 75 percent by 2025. Therefore, it is paramount that we redefine the meaning of work-life balance.

What Is It?

Work-life balance does not mean a 50-50 situation or balance between your work life and personal life. Below are some workable definitions. 

Work-life balance refers to an equilibrium state, where one effectively balances work or career demands and those of their personal life. An individual who lacks a work-life balance has more work and home obligations, works longer hours, and lacks personal time. 

According to hrzone, work-life balance defines how well a person prioritises personal and career demands, and how much work is present in one’s home. It is best to create a schedule that creates a balance between your work and personal life. 

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What Is It Not?

The literal interpretation of work-life balance would not stand here. It is not creating an equal balance between work and home or personal life. Life is fluid. You cannot schedule the same amount of time for the two aspects of your life.

Work-life balance is not a timetable kind of endeavour. What works for you today might be ineffective tomorrow -your work-life balance changes every day, and during every stage of your life.

Furthermore, people have their unique work-life balance routines. Things that work for someone else cannot or might not work for you since our priorities differ. Create a personal plan and benefit fully.

Work-Life Balance in Your Business

Establish effective work-life balance strategies for your business to maximise your employees’ productivity. Know what motivates your employees to work and engage positively according to company principles.

Employee-specific factors, such as employee personality and their stage in life play a role in establishing a workable work-life balance. So does the type of work and the environment within which your business operates. 

However, take note and be conscious of the changes in your business that will mandate a change in your work-balance strategy. For example, you will have to devise a new work-life balance approach with new employees. 

BrightHR helping you manage your people and business

Contact us to find out how BrightHR people management software can help you manage and store your essential employee records and documents.

How Do You Create a Work-Life Balance for Small Businesses

Busy schedules should not deter you from maintaining a work-life balance. Below are some tips for creating the elusive balance for your business.

  • Set Boundaries 

Setting clear boundaries with every business stakeholder is critical in creating a balance within your business. Concrete communication structures and policies help you set boundaries with customers, employees, and other stakeholders.

  • Create Rules and Follow Them

Set rules that you, as the business owner, will work by and follow. Define work things you cannot do during personal time and vice versa. Always review the rules to ensure you work by them.

  • Formulate and Emergency Plan 

Develop a way of testing and determining what situations qualify as emergencies. An emergency can call for you to break boundaries or bend the rules.

  • Consistency is Key

Be consistent in your actions to adhere to your rules and maintain boundaries. Do not back-slide lest you start all over again.

  • Take Breaks 

Give yourself regular breaks from work to avoid stress and burnout. Schedule time for everything and spend enough time on personal or non-work-related activities.

A Positive Work-Life Balance Is Beneficial To You

Work-life balance defines a healthy workplace. Individuals who maintain a work-life balance suffer from lesser stress or burnout. Stress paves the way for other conditions, such as depression, burnout, hypertension, and heart issues, that are detrimental to the individual and the company.

Burnout and stress are linked to psychological issues and even physical problems at extreme levels. An employee who works many overtime hours risks suffering from burnout. Burnout negatively impacts productivity. 


The idea of work-life balance is diverse. Whatever works for you might not work for other people. This gives it many and varied definitions. Finding a balance between work and personal life is a challenging feat. Covid-19 affected work-life balance for small and medium businesses. The sudden disruption of regular activities made it difficult to balance our affairs well.

A positive work-life balance is beneficial to you and your business. Use the tips above to create the balance for the betterment of your business.

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About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 5,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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