An Augusta University professor has published a book on finding work-life balance and avoiding burnout.
Dr. William Hatcher, chair of the Department of Social Sciences in Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, has co-authored a book entitled Work-Life Balance in Higher Education. Though it started as a collection of essays that had been published in the Journal of Public Affairs Education, the publisher urged Hatcher to include additional information, appealing to a broader audience.
“When people have more control, reasonable demands and support from their organizations, they tend to do better, and those organizations are less likely to burn out and more likely to have workplace work and life balance,” he found.
The concept of work-life balance isn’t new, but it came into specific focus during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, particularly when employers began requiring employees who were working remotely to return to the office.
When those two spheres of a person’s world, work and home life, are out of balance, burnout can quickly follow.
Hatcher believes it is because we are still in the mindset of the Industrial Revolution, when people were expected to be at work for a specific number of hours each week.
“That doesn’t work in our economy today,” he said. “That doesn’t translate into efficiency, effectiveness, and good outcomes for organizations, public or private. When people have more control, have reasonable demands, and support from their organizations, they tend to do better. Those organizations are less likely to burn out and more likely to have workplace work and life balance.”
Some employers, both public and private, may need help to create a culture at work that is efficient, but also a nurturing, supportive environment.
That’s where businesses like Homethrive enter the picture. The Northbrook, Ill.-based company shows employers ways to prevent employee burnout while keeping their business on track, particularly for employees who are caregivers at home.
Co-founder and co-CEO, Dave Jacobs realized the struggle employees caring for a loved one face when his father became very ill. Jacobs was living in Chicago and his parents were in Connecticut. Working for a healthcare company, Jacobs thought he understood what was needed.
“It was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to go, what questions to ask, or what resources were available. I gained 20 pounds in six weeks; I had a level of stress I had never experienced before. My wife even suggested to me that I think about taking a leave of absence. It was very hard to get through this. And when we did get through it, I thought to myself, ‘this has to be easier’,” he said.
Jacobs and David Greenberg, a close friend who went through a similar experience, decided to team up and Homethrive was born.
The first step is communication, an employee explaining what they need and employers finding ways to accommodate them.
That takes planning between both parties to reduce some of the stress and anxiety. Homethrive can be the conduit, creating a team to meld business concerns with employee needs.
“What’s interesting is people have talked about their caregiving needs and challenges for young children for many years, that’s something it’s very open, and it’s celebrated,” he explained. “But for a variety of reasons, people are less comfortable talking about the challenges they have caring for an ageing family member or even a family member with special needs. We see that starting to change, but it really is the first step. And it needs to be more widely embraced by organizations.”
Jacobs said timing is an important component. Coming up with flexible scheduling options can provide the needed balance between work and life. It can include providing caregiver leave or simply adjusting their hours.
“Fortunately, employers are starting to recognize that an employee brings their whole selves to work with all the challenges they may face outside of work,” he said. “After work stress, family-related stress is the number two stressor for an individual. And that kind weighs most heavily on employees.”
Hatcher believes companies like Homethrive may become the next wave of new businesses, specifically focusing on helping employers and employees to be open with their needs.
“I think so, because the public sector and the private sector both realize the importance of work-life balance and empowering workers to have that control. More and more places are realizing that you’re losing money if you’re in the private sector or you’re losing your resources and your goals in the public sector,” he said. “Employees may not work as long hours at a particular desk, but they’re more productive and more effective when they have that control and that balance. So, businesses are popping up to work as consultants to try to get organizations the special tools they need to do that.”
Jacobs said, “What’s interesting is this affects everybody, and it doesn’t matter how much money you have, what your title is, what your education is. We have senior executives who can afford anything, they can get access to things, they still struggle with the same things because they’re people and they have loved ones that they are caring for and supporting.”
More information about Homethrive is available on the company website at www.homethrive.com.