Employee engagement is important for businesses here in Kentucky and across the country. Organizations want their employees to be fully committed and engaged in their work, because that translates to higher levels of productivity, larger profits, less absenteeism and lower turnover. Likewise, employees themselves yearn to have meaningful work that inspires and engages them.
If we are engaged in our work, how do we demonstrate that commitment to our employers? Do we demonstrate it by working long hours? Staying late at the office? Being available 24/7? Responding to emails immediately? Staying plugged in all the time?
There are certainly a myriad of tools that allow us to stay connected to our work, including smartphones, laptops, iPads and email, just to name a few. The good news is that these tools liberate us from the workplace. We can now work anywhere, at any time. But what’s the bad news? We can now work anywhere, at any time. We can work from home, a coffee shop, the airport, the car, a restaurant, a child’s baseball game or dance recital, and even from vacation.
But how is that working out for us? Many of us feel burned out. In fact, one-third of American workers report feeling chronically overworked. This desire to prove that we are committed to our jobs is leading many of us to demonstrate that commitment in maladaptive ways that can lead to a lack of work-life balance, which is unsustainable and unhealthy. When we work hard without rest and renewal, our balance gets out of whack. Work takes over, and our non-work responsibilities get shoved aside or done haphazardly because our minds are constantly on our work.
So how do we achieve and maintain work-life balance? By unplugging from work. That means detaching from work — mentally, physically and electronically.
Unplugging can be challenging for several reasons that have been documented by researchers. First, people hope to advance their careers or are worried about their job security, so they feel a great need to demonstrate their dedication to their jobs. They mistakenly believe that the best way to do that is to work more hours and be available all the time.