Ask the Expert : Should I leave to regain my work-life balance?
This article’s expert was Executive Coach and HR Specialist on Employee Wellbeing, Sara Rawstron
“I have recently lost a good friend who died suddenly in his early fifties. The grieving process has made me reassess my own life and I realise that my work is placing too high a burden on me and, as a consequence, on those dear to me. The company I have worked for for many years has an accepted long hours’ culture which demands much of my time and energy and has the obvious knock-on effect on my personal life. I don’t feel there is anything I can do to change things at work so am considering handing in my notice and leaving. My wife thinks I’m crazy as I have nothing to go to and my age may count against me in finding another position but I feel there must be more to life than driving myself into an early grave. I would welcome your thoughts.”
It would be a useful starting point to talk to your line manager about how you are feeling. Your bereavement may not be impacting on your work performance but it is certainly impacting on how you feel about work.
When you lose someone, you go through a grieving process and it takes some time to process these emotions. It is often a time of self-reflection and taking stock of life. It might be useful to talk to someone in confidence about how you feel. Most organisations have their own Employee Assistance Programme (counselling service) and, in the first instance, your line manager or Human Resources department ought to be able to provide you with these details. You should be able to make an appointment to access this service either face to face or by telephone at a time to suit you, and also within working hours.
Once you have taken some time to adjust to your loss, you may feel differently about workload. If, however, it still seems excessive you can raise the issue with your line manager. Often managers can help us to prioritise when workloads are excessive or offer support, but if you get no support and the situation continues, you can let your line manager know how this is making you feel about continuing to work for the organisation. If the issue cannot be resolved informally, you can always ask for a stress risk assessment, which considers workload along with other pressure factors. This would give you the opportunity to raise it formally and talk about what actions could be taken by both you and your line manager to ease the pressure and improve your work-life balance. It also gives you an opportunity to monitor the effectiveness of these actions so that there can be a real improvement in both the conditions of work and in your response to the pressures. Many organisations run training courses on building personal resilience, or offer coaching and mentoring to support employees to think through how they might change their response to pressure and/or manage it better.
It is worth pursuing all of these options before deciding whether you still want to leave the organisation.