Importance of a good Work-Life Balance

Published: 13 May 2013

Ok, so you’ve got your sights set on a high-flying career abroad and inevitably you’ll be putting in the hours. But what’s the point of living in an exciting new country if you don’t give yourself the chance to live a little. Here are some tips on how to work to live – not the other way around.

Get to the root of the problem

There could be many reasons why you find yourself with no leisure time. Usually, it’s because you are taking on too much in a bid to prove yourself, but it might also be that you are out of your depth, you aren’t organising your work enough or simply that your journey to work is too long.

One of the biggest indicators that you have a work-life-balance problem is your health. If you are increasingly taking days off and suffering tiredness, stress and sleepless nights you need to address the problem sooner rather than later.

There are several ways to deal with these issues:

• Don’t take work home
• Stop checking your work emails from home
•  Be less receptive to your boss calling you out-of-hours
• Don’t skip lunch, or breaks during the working day
• Plan some time for you every week

Consider your options

The hours in hospitality are universally long and unsociable, but flexible working is becoming increasingly popular. Indeed, the beauty of hospitality is that many departments, such as housekeeping, reception and HR particularly lend themselves to part-time work, job shares and the nine-day fortnight. That said, you might find it harder to organise this in some countries outside the UK.

If you are nearly at breaking point you might want to consider taking a career break or asking for a sabbatical.

Know your rights

In EU countries, there is a lot of family-friendly legislation in place and many employers even promote more work-life balance in the workplace. Obviously, that is not the case across the world, so you need to check what you are entitled to. But don’t despair, in many cases, large hotel companies will have a global policy – so remember to do a bit of research on the Internet before applying for jobs.

For example, watch out for the Workwise Quality Mark, a recognition stamp launched in 2007 that will be given to employers who introduce “smarter working practices”.

Of course, the nature of hospitality means many of you have to work unsociable hours. In the UK, under the Employment Act 2002 some parents and carers have the right to request to work flexibly, but the employer may refuse on several counts:

• If they have to pay additional costs
• If it means they won’t be able to meet customer demand
• If they can’t reorganise the work among existing staff
• If it means the quality of work will be affected
• If they don’t have enough work for you during the periods you are proposing

You are more likely to get your employer to agree if you can present a workable solution and show that it will not damage the business - which is going to be your boss’s biggest concern.

How to approach your boss

Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s not in an employer’s interest to have an unwell, unhappy member of staff. The best approach is to have an informal, off-the-record chat first with your HR manager who will be able to explain the company’s policy on work-life balance and flexible working before you go to your boss.

Be aware…

The potential downside is that choosing flexible hours or a part-time role could slow down your career progression. And the bad news for those of you heading for the top is that you may have to change or even give up your work-life balance patterns.



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