Live to work, or work to live – your choice!
November 16, 2012
By Sam Fergusson.
Sitting in the office, at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon, I got to thinking about how my attitude to work has changed and what the differences are between work–life balance in the UK and in New Zealand, where I’m from.
Gone are the days where I can leave spot on 5.30pm to cricket training or indoor football, an early dinner with the family or touch footy match. It’s not that I don’t want to leave; it’s just that the term ‘working hours’ in the UK seem to fit into a grey area. On my way home, I see the same people every day sitting at their desks at 7.30pm, and rather than saying to myself, “at least I am out on time”, I wonder to myself, “what have a missed at work? Why are there so many people staying behind? Am I actually leaving… early?” What part of their job requires them to neglect personal time so much? Is it chasing cash? Searching for that promotion they have always wanted? Or is it that the norm in the UK is to be at work after hours and not to be the first to leave?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for staying behind if there is work to be done, and deadlines to be met, but deadlines 24/7, 365 days a year? Really? The phrase ‘Monday to Friday 9 to 5.30’ had to be created for a reason, right? If you can’t get the work done in the allocated hours 90% of the time, in my opinion, there’s something wrong here. I can hear people thinking at this point “wait, is this a contract recruiter giving me opinions on work–life balance? He is having a laugh!”
No jokes people, if I can make recruitment work around my lifestyle, you can do it too! So, as a Kiwi recruiter in the UK, what would I say are the top 3 things to consider when going for a job, be it contract, perm or fixed-term with regards to work–life balance?
Family are number one.
They come first. You only get one family. Jobs will come and go so choose a job that fits around your family situation best.
Mental/physical health and wellbeing.
It’s important that you are able to relax, whether it’s going to the cinema with mates, hitting the pub at 5 on a Friday, or getting a game of cricket in before the sun goes down (not likely in Scotland mind you). Personally I have found physical fitness to be an aide to my mental health; a good game of rugby, a hard workout at the gym or even a 20-minute walk are all fantastic forms of stress relief from the daily hustle and bustle of work life. If you find a workplace that encourages you take time out for lunch, rather than sit at your desk eating, or one that has sports teams (netball, cricket, touch, football or tiddlywinks) get amongst it. It not only helps you feel good, but as the old saying goes: healthy body healthy mind (or is it the other way around?!).
After family and you (the two most important things), then start to consider your work. I enjoy my job, I love working for the company I work for, and I actually WANT to put in the hard yards to earn a crust. If there comes a day when I don’t enjoy it, then it’s time to start looking elsewhere! I work to live, I don’t live to work.
What am I trying to say here? When considering your next role, career move or promotion, remember to take into account YOUR life and the things you hold most important. And make sure your agency knows too!
Take me back.