Achieving a Healthy Work-Life Balance with YuLife, FYXER and Workplace Options

Experts came together for a virtual discussion on the importance of self-care and juggling competing priorities in an event hosted by YuLife, FYXER and Workplace Options.

Yugi the Giraffe - 21 July 2020

Science tells us that, when life is out of balance, it could have a significant impact on our mental health. The Institute for Employment Studies found that around 48% of us say that we're working longer and more irregular hours than we ever have done before and 50% of us say that we're currently unhappy with that work-life balance. So, it's probably not surprising that around a third of us are saying our mental health has suffered and deteriorated since lockdown.

Experts Dr Hadassah Fromson, Workplace Options’ VP Clinical Crisis & Specialty Services Dr Kennette Thigpen, and Melanie Taylor, FYXER’s HR Manager, sat down for a virtual chat with YuLife’s Kate Whitelock about all things to do with work-life balance as well as ways to maximise your time beyond work throughout the pandemic and beyond.

YuLife, FYXER and Workplace Options virtual panel

Utilising digital resources to keep connected and improve your wellbeing

Kate began the event by asking how everyone is adjusting to a new way of living and working. Melanie stated “where we have such a dedicated team at FYXER, we found that their commitment can sometimes mean the boundaries are blurred between home and work life.

“It’s more important than ever that we stay connected as a team, so we're looking out for each other and have a great sense of community. We've been using Slack for that. We also have an Asana board on sharing resources and info for homeschooling and keeping children entertained because that's been a big challenge for many of us.

“At FYXER, we’re big fans of the YuLife app because it encourages us to get outdoors and active. You're rewarded for both steps and mindfulness activities which promote inclusion for those that have been shielding and maybe can't get outdoors so they can still prioritise their wellbeing. We also get the Employee Assistance programme through YuLife, which is an amazing resource for access to experts that can help you through life's challenges. I would say to anybody that has access to those resources to use them, especially at this time.”

Handling feeling overwhelmed whilst working from home

Dr Thigpen then offered some advice on feeling overwhelmed whilst you’re at home: “When people hear the word work-life balance, they think it has to be some type of equivalent or equal parts of something when in actuality, it's just you being in control of your time and your energy.

“Think of your time almost like a pizza and divide it into 24 slices to constitute each hour of the day and shading in those pieces based upon what you're doing in the day to help determine what you need to do. I would take the 8 first pieces and I would shade that in for sleep and another 8 pieces need to be taken for work.

“This means I only have 8 hours left in my pizza and it's up to me how am I going to utilise them so that I'm not overwhelmed. You also have to be realistic and understand what those additional 8 hours look like.

“When you start becoming overwhelmed, it's really important to say no. It's okay to say no without feeling guilty because you don't want to add additional things onto that pizza. Delegate where you can and prioritise your time. As you're looking at that pizza, start prioritising what's most important for you so that you don't get overwhelmed.”

Dr Fromson is a relationships expert and counselling psychologist who had some advice to offer people who are experiencing tension within their relationships whilst we’re all at home: “We've recently seen some really sad statistics from China, where divorce rates have skyrocketed as a result of lockdown. So it's good to start thinking about how we protect those around us and our relationships, particularly our partners when you have increased stress levels.

“Sometimes when we’re stressed, we lash out. There's an excellent book by Esther Perel called ‘Mating in Captivity’ that talks about the importance of maintaining erotic energy within the relationship, but she also talks about the importance of boundaries and what we expect from our relationships.

“The key is recognising when with this build-up of tension is happening so you can communicate before you lash out.”

“We expect a partner to be our best friend, to be our children’s carer, and there's a lot of enmeshment in relationships right now that has been even more pronounced when we don't have separate workspaces. The key here is also recognising when with this build-up of tension is happening so you can communicate before you lash out because anything that is said cannot be unsaid; you can apologise for it but it's been said, it can hurt and it might come up again another time when things are difficult.

“Both partners need to work on the technique where one person has to say something that the other has to accept without guilt-tripping. John Gottman’s ‘Seven Principles to Make a Marriage Work’ has excellent communication techniques that teach you how to have ‘good fights’. You can disagree on things and you can resolve things so that you don't cause damage to the relationship.”

The Mental Health Foundation reported that around 75% of HR managers think prolonged home-working has created a sense of presentee-ism and a need to always be “on.”

Dr Thigpen shared a personal experience with communicating feeling overwhelmed and asking her boss for help: “What I started to do when I realised I was becoming burnt out rapidly was make a list of what was triggering me to become stressed and overwhelmed, made another list of all my responsibilities and a final list keeping track of what am I doing throughout my day. I then scheduled a meeting with my boss and was able to open up a dialogue right away.

“I think one it's really important that you feel comfortable to be able to do it and try to do it in person or face to face via Zoom. Don't be afraid to make bullet points of everything you want to talk about so you ensure you’re able to discuss the things that are going to make you feel comfortable. And don't be afraid to have some solutions. Ask what their thoughts about it but also be very open-minded to what feedback may provide to you as well.

Managing expectations around out-of-hours communication

The panel received a question from an audience member asking how to deal with a manager that messages out for hours and on the weekend without seeming like they’re not a team player. Melanie weighed in by saying that “I think it goes back to communicating and understanding what expectations are because I typically find that we create our own expectations of having to be on 24/7.

“We create our own expectations of having to be on 24/7.”

“For others, what works best for them isn’t logging on during traditional nine to five hours due to children or being at home during the pandemic - this might impact managerial expectations too. So having a conversation of what the true expectation is, and explaining what would benefit you as well, is important because having a dialogue means that you can find a compromise.”

Top tips from experts for achieving a work-life balance

Melanie’s top tip involves “allowing yourself permission to enjoy yourself. Life is for enjoying, it's not all about work. Figure out what you're going to do in those eight hours you're not working with sleeping and fill it with an activity that you absolutely love and enjoy, and you will reap the benefits from that”

Dr Fromson says to “frame your tasks as choices. Often we tend to feel like we have no choice: ‘I have to work, I have to feed my kids, I have to pay my mortgage’. And if you change it to say, ‘I choose to go to work, I choose to pay my mortgage, I choose to feed my kids’, that little change in your perspective can make these tasks something you feel privileged to do. Anytime you feel this way, realise you actually do have the choice to opt-out and the empowerment from that can make all the difference in your day to day experiences.”

Dr Thigpen says to “really try to be proactive as opposed to reactive when it comes to being overwhelmed and stressed because a lot of the time we wait until it’s too late. It's really important that you are aware you acknowledge it, and that you take action on that. Many of us are not taking time off of work and trying to save annual leave because we feel like we can't go anywhere. But plan those mental health days so you don’t get to the point where you're already burned out.”

About our partners

We’d like to thank both FYXER and Workplace Options for helping us to put on such an exciting and informative event. Here’s a little more about our partners:

FYXER is a leading virtual executive assistant service that helps busy executives across the U.K., Europe and the US increase productivity, reduce stress by reducing the recruitment process and matching assistants to the precise needs of their clients.

Workplace Options is the world’s largest independent provider of integrated employee wellbeing solutions. Their focus on client satisfaction brings millions of employees exceptional support services around the globe.

Click here to find out how YuLife can help you to prioritise your employee wellbeing.

Yugi the Giraffe

Yugi is our YuLife mascot. Like all giraffes they've got a big heart – in fact the biggest heart of all land animals.