Work-Life Balance Trumps Bank Balance

September 20, 2022
Lisa Walder Founder

We’ve been led to believe the world of work is a battlefield, where only the strong survive. From #hustleCulture to the constant stream of productivity hacks, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only thing anyone cares about is maximising their pay cheque. 

But what if that was all an illusion? What if the truth was, more people than ever were rejecting these toxic attitudes to work?

According to a recent study, 70% of employees feel work-life balance is more important than their pay and employee benefits combined. Candidates are waking up to the reality that earning isn’t everything, and prioritising their wellbeing and happiness.

To understand why, you need only turn a critical eye to all of those myths about #Hustling.

There’s nothing glamorous about burnout

When we look at social media and see CEOs “grinding”, there is an implicit message: this will be worth it in the end

Right now, they’re working 16 hour days, eating at their desks and dreaming (when they sneak in that weekly half hour nap) about spreadsheets. 

But at some point in the future, they’ll be rewarded with…something

For a small minority of people, what that “something” is is besides the point. They thrive on the work itself, and will stop at nothing to succeed – regardless of the end goal.

That level of dedication and drive is extremely rare though – and there is nothing glamorous or enviable about it.

In the last few years, overworking has led to an “epidemic” of burnout, with many people feeling they are unable to pursue meaningful hobbies or find time for their loved ones. 

Research has confirmed that prioritising money over wellbeing is actively harmful for people. It leads to a lower quality of life, which in turn tends to make employees resent their work and employers.

Worse still, there is little reason to think most of us will really benefit from sacrificing ourselves at the altar of work.

Overworking doesn’t pay off anyway

Hard work is important. And it makes intuitive sense that the harder we work, the more we get. 

The only problem is research has consistently demonstrated that there is a clear cut-off point, where overworking actually becomes counterproductive.

Working extremely long hours is also not optimal for productivity, as there is a steep fall off in terms of output beyond a certain threshold and the inevitable burnout makes it actively damaging to productivity over time.

There is also a risk of increased errors, as employees begin to lose sleep when they work too hard. Nutrition and exercise also tend to take a hit, leading to poorer cognitive functioning.

Opting for a better work-life balance may appear to mean inherently de-prioritising work. But the truth is, improving their work-life balance makes people happier and healthier – which in turn helps them become more engaged, productive workers.

So not only does overworking not make most of us happy- it doesn’t even make us better workers. 

Getting the best of both worlds

In an increasingly digitised world, the implicit dichotomy of “work-life balance” has become outdated.

With remote opportunities abounding, talent today can get the best of both worlds – working hard without losing their autonomy or missing out on other things that matter to them.

By setting your own schedule and working around other obligations, many workers today balance meaningful, successful careers with caring roles, extracurricular pursuits or more relaxed home lives.

And employers gain from this too, with happier, more engaged employees that appreciate the flexibility they’re given and repay it with greater loyalty.

It all comes down to one question

What kind of life do you really want to live? 

Perhaps a bigger bank balance really is the best way to improve things for you, and enable you to find more meaning and joy. 

But it’s worth at least considering all the other ways you might go about achieving these things – and whether working 60 hours per a week is really compatible with them.