How To Build Sustainable Work-Life Balance For Women?

If you have been struggling to achieve work-life balance as a working woman, you’re not alone. 

As per the latest report by recruiting agency 24 Seven, an imbalanced work-life was the number one concern of female employees. 

Not just that, the Amplifying Women at Work Report of 2023 highlights that 86% of working women feel stressed due to their jobs. For most working women, juggling between work and household responsibilities has been an age-old challenge. While in an ideal world, the burden of household responsibilities should be equally divided between both partners, women continue bearing the brunt of an increasing gender divide

An analysis by Maven Clinic found that working mothers are 28% more likely to feel burnout than working fathers during the pandemic. This caused millions of women to leave their jobs. The result  – female workforce participation in America is at its lowest since 1988. 

A disrupted work-life balance for women is an accepted norm. It’s deeply ingrained in the foundational structures of how the professional world and society, at large, function. It denotes the deep-seated inequalities that women face at every step of their life. 

Addressing the concerns regarding the work-life balance for women is one of the primary ways to retain talented female employees, prevent burnout and fatigue, and create equitable and just workspaces.

In this blog post, we will dive deeper into the very basics of building a sustainable work-life balance. We will also look at the factors affecting work-life balance for female employees and how employers can help assuage these concerns. 

But first, let’s understand how to spot an unhealthy work-life balance for female employees

What Does An Unhealthy Work-Life Balance For Women Look Like?

Work-Life Balance For Women

At the very first step of understanding how to build a healthy work-life balance for women, it’s essential that you are able to spot the issues regarding your professional life in the first place. If you are confused about whether you have an unhealthy work-life balance, here are a few signs that you can look out for:

1. You don’t have time to take care of yourself.

Any self-care routine you had is now out of the window because you are constantly struggling to find time for yourself in the middle of your busy days. Your existence is consumed by your personal and professional life, giving you little to no time to focus on yourself. 

A self-care routine is the first one to go when the work-life balance of women goes haywire. Your habits feel weirdly out of place. You might notice appetite or weight changes. You might start feeling tired easily. All these are red flags regarding the work-life imbalance of women. 

2. Your personal and professional life is a complete mess. 

When you are consumed by an unhealthy lifestyle, the first things that go haywire are the tasks that don’t seem interesting. So all the cleaning, laundry, and dishes remain just as they are. Who would really focus on loading the dishwasher when you have a meeting deadline coming up?

The thing about clutter is that it tends to pull you into a vicious cycle that depresses you and makes you even more unmotivated

3. Your cognitive functions start feeling slow. 

Another important sign of having an unhealthy work-life balance of women employees is struggling to focus or concentrate on regular tasks. 

Increased and continuous exposure to stressful circumstances will affect the frontal lobe of the brain. This would lead to impaired decision-making, confused memory, and forgetfulness. 

Finally, if you are still unsure whether you have an imbalanced work-life, it’s essential to trust your gut. Your instincts don’t lie. If you feel any XYZ problem, a part of it exists in your life positively. Therefore, find some alone time to really tune in with how you are feeling. This will give you a much-needed perspective. 

How Are Gender And Work-Life Balance Related?

Work-Life Balance For Women

Now that we have seen what an unhealthy work-life balance for female employees looks like, let’s dive into the cause of the problem. What are the factors affecting the work-life balance of female employees? 

Employees of all genders should be respected and valued in an ideal workplace. However, gender and work-life balance are closely connected. The interplay of these factors presents unique challenges for female employees. Here are the main factors affecting the work-life balance of female employees:

1. Sexism

Cultural attitudes, stigma, and stereotypes bring absurd and frustrating challenges to the work-life balance of women employees. Casual sexism and misogyny at workplaces can often mount to mental health struggles and extreme emotional distress. Inequalities in terms of pay parity and the all-too-real glass ceiling effect continuously affect the work-life balance of women. 

2. Dual responsibilities

Even after all these years, women are expected to bear the brunt of household responsibilities. As per research by the Pew Research Center, working mothers are three times more likely to say that being a parent has made their professional life harder.

Additionally, the gendered expectations from women to become caregivers and take on household responsibilities puts an unhealthy burden on their lives.

What Can Employers Do To Build Healthy Work-Life Balance For Female Employees?

As mentioned above, gender and work-life balance are clearly connected. Systemic and historical inequalities in personal and professional spheres have made sure that female work-life balance becomes an increasingly difficult lifestyle rather than the norm. 

This is where employers come in. Organizations and employers can do a lot for women and their work-life balance. Here are some important initiatives from around the world that can be excellent starting points:

1. Promote flexibility. 

One of the best ways for employers to promote work-life balance for women is to offer flexibility in terms of working conditions. The flexibility can take multiple forms, including:

  • flexible working hours,
  • remote working options, or
  • job-sharing arrangements. 

This allows women, especially mothers, to cater to the needs of their families as well as their personal lives while giving their best in their professional lives.

2. Discourage female employees from working long hours. 

It has been scientifically proven that long working hours are unhealthy and do not lead to the desired productivity that employers hope. This is why it’s important that female employees are discouraged from working extended hours. The cost of burnout and unwell employees is extremely high, and it’s counterproductive to a healthy and focused workspace. 

3. Encourage the use of policies promoting healthy work-life balance for female employees. 

While offering work-life balance is great, it’s essential that employers formulate tangible and justiciable policies for women to gain these benefits. Additionally, efforts should be made to ensure that employees from all backgrounds are able to make the most out of these policies without any shame or stigma. 

4. Create a culture where the personal time and space of employees are respected.

To build and sustain a healthy work-life balance for working women, it’s essential that employers allow them to disengage from work once they reach home. Employees should not be contacted beyond office hours unless it’s an emergency. 

Allowing your employees the designated break can help build a healthy work-life balance for female employees, thereby increasing the overall productivity and energy of the workspace. 

How Can Female Employees Build A Healthy Work-Life Balance For Themselves?

Work-Life Balance For Women

Now that we have discussed the structural inequalities in the workplace, let’s talk about another part of the problem. 

As women, we are taught to function in two entirely different roles – the traditional household roles and the ambitious, career-oriented roles. This is why when it comes to managing our responsibilities, we tend to take on far more than what we can handle. Therefore, one of the first tips for women to build a healthy work-life balance for themselves is to let themselves take a back seat. It’s essential to understand that your self-worth is not defined by the work you do. You are bigger than this. 

Sound unmanageable? 

Here are a few easy, effective, and non-intimidating ways to develop work-life balance for working women:

1. Prioritize your ‘me’ time. 

While juggling work, family, and friends — it’s almost impossible to find time for yourself. It might feel selfish to put your needs ahead of everything else.

And this is what needs to change. Prioritizing yourself is never selfish. It’s an essential part of looking after your personal health and well-being. Therefore, start tuning in with your needs. Create time for things that make you happy. Focus on keeping yourself healthy and happy. 

2. Understand that there are no extra points for being a martyr. 

If you are someone who constantly sacrifices their well-being for your work or personal life, here’s the thing – there are no winners in the misery Olympics. Therefore, understand that it’s essential to find time for yourself instead of constantly trying to achieve something new. 

Simply put – you don’t win any brownie points for working through the holidays and ending up with burnout. A sleep-deprived woman does not make the world a better place. So, take care of yourself. 

3. Learn to say no. 

As women, we are taught to always be available for help. We take up far more responsibilities than we can handle because the guilt and regret of saying ‘no’ makes you feel terrible on the inside. However, saying no is a power phrase. It allows you to take back control of your life and puts you in charge of whatever is happening. It helps you disengage from things that you don’t want to be a part of. 

4. Take small but frequent breaks. 

Finally, don’t wait until you are breaking down to take that break. An excellent tip for building a healthy work-life balance for women is to engage in regular breaks that give you much-needed downtime from your stressful lives. They help you become more productive and also boost your productivity in the long run. 

Conclusion:

Women are taught to go above and beyond to be perfect in their personal and professional lives. Their well-being is constantly disregarded. This ingrains a culture of self-sacrifice and also leads to deep-seated inequalities in their professional lives.

An unhealthy work-life balance for women is a result of these historical inequalities. As the world becomes more aware, let’s hope that we will strive to build a more equitable and just space for working women. We hope these tips on how to build a sustainable work-life balance for working women will help you get started the right way. 

Apart from an unhealthy work-life balance, patriarchy has far-reaching consequences for women’s mental health. To learn more about them, click here.

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