The struggles of achieving a work-life balance

L-R: Vanessa Rukundo, Diana Mpyisi, Carmen Nibigira, Kenneth Agutamba, Makeda Mahadeo and Gloria Kaligirwa during a panel discussion on how to balance work and life. Courtesy.

Juggling a successful career at the same time maintaining a healthy social life among other demands of life can sometimes be stressful.

A recent report ‘It’s time we all work happy: the secrets of the happiest companies and employees’ released by Robert Half, a human resource consulting firm in the USA, surveyed 24,000 employees across eight countries in an effort to reveal how appreciated they felt, and how their work-life balance is.

The research found that 12% of respondents aged between 35 and 54 and 10% of millennials struggle with work-life balance.

Why is it difficult to strike this balance?

Author Jessica Stillman says that technology is partly to blame for employees not having a balance between work and free time because it has made people work longer hours by carrying work home.

Static salaries, increasing responsibilities, longer hours at work, and that eternal work-life challenge, becoming a parent are some of the issues that were cited in her article.

“Whatever the exact mix of causes, the new numbers add to the case that we are living in a golden age of workplace stress,” Stillman wrote.

Some of these issues were also discussed during a forum on work and life balance that was held early this week where panelists shared their experience and tips on how to strike this balance.

Carmen Nibigira, the project director at Horwath HTL Rwanda says at times people focus so much on delivering and neglect other vital aspects of life. People should understand that striking this balance is an investment.

Nibigira also notes that for working mothers this is even harder because of the high pressure that society puts on them.

“We have objectives, deadlines and targets but I think life should be about specifically looking at the results because if you don’t have the right attitude, right mind and the right body you cannot attain this, it’s an investment to find that balance,” she says.

Kenneth Agutamba, the chief strategist at Impact Communication Strategies says no one can be perfect when it comes to striking this balance.

“It is a real struggle, there are times when your life is your work and it is difficult to separate the two. This is even harder when your job is your hobby for example musicians,” he says.

Diana Mpyisi, founder and managing director of Blue Oceans, a communications firm suggests that it is even harder when one is running a business and also doing side gigs at the same time.

She however says that employers should look out for their workers by providing them with an environment that can favour this balance.

“Invest in your employees, it is important to understand that employees should grow your company but again you should also be able to invest in them.”

What can be done to overcome this?

Gloria Kaligirwa, the head of human resource at Remote Partners Ltd says employers should care for the well-being of employees.

“I am so much engaged with my staff, I take my time to analyse how they are doing. If you care about your employees you need to check on them and keep them engaged so that you avoid not being there for them when they are going through a difficult time,” she says.

Kaligirwa, however, says employees should understand that even though balancing work and life is not easy it is not the employer’s sole responsibility to help them find it.

“What the employer does is to try and assist you but it all begins with you.”

Makeda Mahadeo, a content creator, DJ and TV personality, says that for one to find this balance they need to create a schedule that can help with proper planning.

“Exercising is really important and it helps with balance. I do work a lot but what I find to be helpful is exercising, it helps me not to get burnt out because if I get burnt out I get nothing done. It is super important not to neglect this, exercising keeps your mind clear and keeps you strong and confident,” she advises.

For Nibigira, finding enough time to rest and hang out with friends and family works well for her.

“I find time to rest by getting enough sleep, spend time with my children and this helps me a lot. When I sleep, there is no phone or internet, and when I sleep I switch off completely. I also like doing simple things like having lunch with friends it helps me rest.”

She also cautions working mothers to have a supporting system, “if you don’t have this you will not deliver. I live in two cities so managing this is really hard. There is no right balance; you cannot have it all but you can have one thing at a time so you really need to strategise on how you’re going to do it.”

Agutamba also recommends that one must define what work means to them at an individual basis.

“Prioritise between your life and work and separate the two. Be a little bit selfish and take care of yourself.”

He also supports Mpyisi’s view saying that employers have a role to play in helping their employees find this balance.

“I believe if you are a CEO, it’s important that you make it part of your company’s corporate culture to create opportunities where your employees come to work but also have a bit of fun within the work environment.”