The essence of work-life balance
The global pandemic that hit the whole world has affected individuals around the globe in various ways and still continue to face the complex and syndicated challenges as a community which are usually initiated through social, economic, environmental as well as political aspects. Although it has shown a significant rise in worsening the physical as well as mental health of individuals. According to WHO, over 60% of countries reported disruptions to mental health services for vulnerable people, including children and adolescents to 72% while other adults to 70%. The main causes for poor mental stability were the closure of businesses, loss of income, layoffs, unemployment, transitioning to remote workplaces, lack of physical contact with other individuals, fear of contracting the virus, loss of loved ones, affected economies, etc. In conclusion, facing new realities and managing to adjust to the new normal is not easy. Striking a balance between personal and professional lives during an ongoing pandemic was a challenge each individual has faced while stress is an essential and inseparable aspect of human life. Maintaining stability needed proper handling of emotions which comes through emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence refers to the capability of a person to manage and control his or her emotions and possesses the ability to control the emotions of others as well. It is proven to be an important skill of leadership. Emotional intelligence is said to have five main elements namely, self-awareness referring to being aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses, self-regulation meaning holding oneself accountable and taking responsibility for their actions, motivation implying having a positive motive to be the driving force even in different situations, empathy indicating to show understanding to someone else’s troubles and lastly social skills being about communicating these skills and point of view to build and maintain a good bond with other individuals. Emotional intelligence was defined by Peter Salovery and John Mayer as, “The ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. This definition was later broken down and refined into four proposed abilities I.e. perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions. They are distinct yet related. There are three important Emotional intelligence models namely: -
• Ability model:
The ability-based model views emotions as useful sources of information that help one to make sense of and navigate the social environment. Individuals vary in their ability to process information of any nature and in their ability to relate emotional processing which is used for manifesting oneself in certain adaptive behaviors. There are mainly four types of abilities included in the ability model namely perceiving emotions which is the ability to detect emotions of oneself as well of others through faces, images, and videos, Using emotions referring to the ability to harness emotions to facilitate various cognitive activities like thinking and problem-solving, Understanding emotions indicating the ability to comprehend emotion language and to recognize and describe how emotions are evolving, while lastly managing emotions which is the ability to regulate emotions in both ourselves as well as other individuals.
• Mixed model:
This model was introduced by Daniel Goleman which focuses on Emotional intelligence as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. It also includes the five main emotional intelligence constructs which are self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation. The model is often used in a corporate or other professional setting to train and evaluate management-related potential and skills. Mostly, a management consulting company can perform a series of evaluations on employees or potential hires based on the mixed model set of values. The company can make suggestions and recommendations regarding staff or can train their employees directly.
• Trait model:
The trait model is of recent origin and a constellation of emotional self-perceptions located at the lower levels of a personality. Also referred to an individual’s self-perception about their emotional abilities. It was introduced by Petrides and describes an individual’s perception of their emotional world and also breaks from the idea that Emotional intelligence is ability based. It proposes that people have as a part of their personalities a number of emotional self-perception and emotional traits. In conclusion, it contends that there is no right or wrong emotion.
The concept of work-life balance comprises three words which are work, life, and balance, and a proper prioritization between the three aspects to maintain stability and harmony. It can be different for different individuals but it is the degree to which an individual can balance the emotional, behavioral, and time demands of work, family, and personal duties simultaneously. Work-life balance can be referred to as the situation in which employees are capable of giving the right amount of time and effort to their work and living outside of work. Proper work-life balance leads to the harmonious and holistic integration of work, family, social and personal life and the extent to which individuals are equally involved and satisfied with their professional and family roles. A good work-life balance can prove to have numerous positive effects which included less stress and a greater sense of well -whereas a poor work-life balance can bring increased responsibilities at work as well as at home, longer working hours, etc. Employers are trying to promote work-life balance to create an environment of work where fewer cases of absenteeism are observed, costs are saved and a more productive workforce is experienced. They don’t do this by providing flexible working hours and telecommuting which helps employees in having a better work-life balance.
An average human spends a quarter of their life at work and that work doesn’t necessarily stay at work only and spills into our personal lives. In recent times, workplace toxicity and toxic work culture are very normalized. Individuals have relatively started to believe their colleagues are likely to be threats rather than collaborators. According to a career builder survey, 43% of workers say their office is populated by cliques - which are tightly knit groups of co-workers who socialize in and outside the office often excluding other employees. They are marked out of important emails and kept out of important decision making also called inner circles in the popular clique culture proven to be a top sign of a toxic workplace where favoritism, groups, and nepotism is being almost normalized. Some examples include McKinsey and Company as well as Amazon. McKinsey and Company had been accused of harboring a toxic work environment, while an employee expressed that in the toxic work environment, managers view employees as tools to produce client deliverables and nothing more.
Another example that shows workplace toxicity is Amazon. In 2015 the New York Times ran a piece on its work culture which read, “At Amazon workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late emails (arriving past midnight followed by texts asking why were they not answered and held to standards that company boasts are unreasonably high). The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another's bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.”
Fierce 2015, reports 78% of employees believe that toxic coworkers hit the morale of the whole team whereas 17% of employees say such coworkers increase stress and reduce their productivity. It takes a toll on the health of the employees. According to American Psychological Association, the Journal of occupational health psychology says employees have negative reactions to their bosses had been suffering from high blood pressure. Also, Howard's business review claims that toxicity at work has put individuals at risk of heart attacks or other life-threatening cardiac conditions and it also reduces the immunity of individuals. A WHO survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services and also underscores the urgent need for increased funding. Although 89% of countries reported in the survey that mental health and psychological support is a part of their national COVID-19 response plans, only 17% of these countries have full additional funding for covering these activities this shows how many countries including India have had a poor health care system and why it is important for individuals to focus on their emotions through emotional intelligence.
Leaders have not done very much about this as their top priorities were always deadlines and targets. According to Hogan assessments, 75% of employees find their work manager is the worst part of their day, and 65% of employees would prefer having a new boss than a raise. Also, a Howard Business School study reports, 25% of the employees work experienced bad behavior at work and took it out on their clients,48% of employees intentionally decreased their work efforts, adding to this 78% of employees said that their commitment to the organization had declined, while 66% said that their performance has declined, this shows why employees need to take a close look at the problem of toxic work culture. Organizations have started to take emotional intelligence seriously as there is a constant need to help people improve their working experience along with improving their quality of life. It has started to recognize the impact of well-being and work-life integration on performance and effectiveness. In the past two years, we have observed organizations deploying multiple initiatives spread across all levels offering a complete list of tools and skill-learning techniques to support employees through these challenging times.
There is a significant increase in vacancies than applicants because of the rise in resignations. A recent study also found that the company culture is likely to influence resignations 10.4 times more than the salary. Some multinational companies have proven this right while Tesla and Netflix had seen more resignations recently than any other companies. Experts say the toxicity driven by a highly competitive work environment may be the reason why talented workers leave their workplace. This leads to a fall in the net output and shows a significant rise in attrition which then leads to a fall in the reputation of the company. Companies have started to do their bit by conducting internal surveys, taking feedback, etc. Weeding out workplace toxicity needs to be coded into HR policy. This very statistic shows how important emotional intelligence and work-life balance among employees is important in order to avoid complications at the individual as well as organizational levels.
Emotional intelligence will continue to be a crucial element of great leadership and the most important one in the coming years as we individuals try to understand the concept of the new normal. The stresses of working remotely, add new and complex pressure as well as friction to each individual life. The recent pandemic has presented leaders with an unprecedented challenge that is to lead through uncertain times of unknown scope and no clear end in sight. The crisis has tested IT leaders on grounds, of their ability to manage fear and anxiety, their capacity to make clear and confident decisions, their competence in delivering bad news along with managing disappointments, and also their power to motivate and encourage others around them. Leaders all over the world had to display empathy, the main skill of emotional intelligence in order to show they understand and feel the challenging circumstances all the employees are in. For creating and maintaining a harmonious work environment in the complex technology-driven world and a globalized workplace with increased diversity, it is essential to acknowledge and build emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence and work-life balance in the educational sector.
Education is a tripolar process where the teacher, learner, and curriculum are inseparably intertwined. The goodwill of an educational institute is dependent upon the goodwill of its teacher. Educators, school universities, and educational authorities play a crucial role in implementing emotional intelligence in learners. Hence they need to practice it in the first place. Nevertheless, they cannot totally communicate with the students at an emotional level. Education imparting is a labor of love but the realities have changed making it more stressful. The pandemic has brought tremendous change in the educational sector, educators had a quick shift from classrooms to online sessions, from a room full of students to being glued to their screens while interacting with their students through online platforms this has been a major challenge for teachers recently. To handle the stressors and the ability to control emotions is what emotional intelligence is all about, an emotionally intelligent educator is a better guide and it will prove to be an asset to the educational sector at large. Hence training is necessary to help them become emotionally intelligent as the present generation faces a new set of problems. It will result in the handling of one’s emotions and actions thereby also handling relationships smoothly by controlling emotions. Emotionally intelligent individuals will be able to tackle complex and new problems as they possess a set of skills such as empathy, self-control, optimism, motivation, self-awareness, stress tolerance, emotional awareness, etc. Today across the globe in educational as well as other sectors the significance of emotional intelligence has become more sustainable.
Emotional intelligence builds a sense of self-awareness that facilitates teaching professionals to be able to identify their own emotions as well as that of others. Different kinds of conflicts and misunderstandings between employees as well as the organization can be resolved if they are emotionally capable and intelligent. This is vital as the current online education System demands employees to have excellent emotional management for a fruitful learning process. Highly emotionally intelligent employees tend to motivate their colleagues as well as themselves to understand their behavioral and psychological well-being.
Organizational culture is changing and employees as well as educators are being selected based not only on IQ but also components of educational intelligence as it creates an environment of growth and development various institutions are developing teacher training programs keeping in mind educational intelligence as a prime factor to develop their employees as mentors, leader and guides. Being an emotionally intelligent individual is the need of the hour as each one is adapting to the change personally as well as professionally. Work-life balance is basically separating work from our personal lives. In the fast-running era of human life, people are failing to maintain a perfect harmony between their professional pressures and the responsibilities at home be it men or women. Work-life balance has been a concern for all those who are interested in maintaining a fine balance between work-life and its association with broader quality of life.
A recent study from the Office of National Statistics found that 48% of adults felt they were struggling with poor work-life balance. Although in a study by educational support, over 74% of teachers reported they struggled with maintaining boundaries between their work and home life over the last few years. Almost ¾ of teachers report they find work stressful and the pandemic has added a lot more to this, work pressures have intensified in the past years the average time spent on the job has increased drastically, and 74% of educational staff say the inability to switch off from work is the major contributing factor to the work-life imbalance, 20% of teacher’s workload is completely outside school hours. In the era of work-from-home employees tend to find it difficult to maintain a balance between personal and professional life. For the majority work-life balance is different from all as all have different priorities and values. In school teachers find it more difficult to balance multiple roles and responsibilities as work and family life emphasize the work-life conflict, the responsibilities in school are different organizing and involvement in extracurricular, finding techniques to improve students learning, etc.
Professional pressures like high expectations and numerous demands can lead to conflict between life and work domains. Teachers are expected to provide learning experiences according to the needs of the learners along with work pressures which lead to an imbalance between work and life affecting teaching efficiency. Educational employees have to build strategies and techniques to create a balance like setting priorities to be accomplished, managing their availability, planning with the new normal in mind, training themselves to use technology, maintaining schedules, etc. Although it is not easy to separate work and personal life while working from home. Many organizations are on the quest of increasing the standards of employees by improving their organizational commitment, enhancing job satisfaction levels, and also reducing work-related stress. Many teachers have started using social media to create a PLN which is a personal learning network, which is a way for employees to use social media to connect with other educators to collaborate, share ideas, and exploration of professional interests. This is a new medium used by teachers to learn a lot more and connect with other employees. Work-life balance is one of the biggest factors in teachers wanting to resign thus it is important that strategies are used to maintain a balance. It needs a lot of planning and determination along with self-discipline to create harmony between work and home life.