Work-life balance is important for our clients to achieve because the “life” part of the equation is the support environment for the “work” part. To get better performance at work, our clients need to enhance the environment they are coming from in order to cope with the stress they will face at work. Getting this right reduces stress leave, sick leave, turnover and the costs associated with a person leaving work.
There are different kinds of stress – some are good, some are neutral and some are bad for us if experienced in the long term. When focusing in on work-life balance we also need to keep in mind that stress might be coming from home, work or after work.
Research shows that work is a leading cause of stress for adults. (Consider that 65 percent of respondents to the American Psychological Association’s 2012 “Stress in America” survey cited work as a significant source of stress in their daily lives.) As coaches, however, we know that our clients’ performance and resilience in the workplace are strongly influenced by the goings-on in their non-work lives. It may be helpful to visualize your client’s day as divided into three segments: pre-text, context and recovery. Each of these segments has an impact on the other two.
The pre-text—what happens before the workday begins, including the morning routine and daily commute—plays a major role in determining your client’s work performance. I have found that the single most important element in a client’s pre-text is their home life – especially their family situation. According to the Holmes & Rehe stressor scale (Holmes TH, Rahe RH (1967). “The Social Readjustment Rating Scale”. J Psychosom Res 11: pp 213–18) family elements account for eight of the top ten items, including (being married coming in at seventh).
Techniques a client might use to boost resilience to stress include:
Consider how stressful the workplace itself is. Each job is different: Consider that in 2013, CareerCast.com’s annual survey of the least- and most-stressful jobs identified university professor and jeweler as two of the lowest-stress professions. On the other end of the spectrum were careers in military service, firefighting and law enforcement.
Techniques for improving coping mechanisms include:
Does your client have a close-knit work group that helps them through tough times? What about a strong support network away from the workplace? Do they volunteer in the community after-hours? Although volunteerism can boost positive emotions and decrease stress, this isn’t always the case with more-stressful obligations, such as firefighting or involvement in local government.
Clients can enhance their ability to bounce back by:
You can readily integrate work-life balance into your coaching practice, to assist clients to review this vital and important issue. Indeed looking at stress alone, or relational issues in isolation would be much less effective without examining whole of life issues such as this.
Robert is an expert in the science of human behaviour and performance enhancement with a passion for neurology, leadership and the psychology of potential. He believes it is important to bring hard science to coaching, and that coaching practices be evidence based and research backed. Robert is a founding partner at Frazer, Holmes Coaching and current Director of Brand and Marketing for the International Coach Federation Australasia (ICFA). Robert is a professionally certified coach (PCC) with over 20 years of business experience and an ICF Accredited Mentor Coach. He is an Associate at the National Speaker's Association, a member of the Coaching Psychology interest group at the APS, a certified Action Learning Coach, a Member of the Australian Institute of Management Consultants.