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More than ever, people in the workforce are struggling to maintain a work-life balance as they manage stress at work while staying on top of their personal lives. But workers in high-stress STEM jobs face unique challenges while they try to live their best life.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance looks different for everyone. But at its core, it’s being able to be present at work and in your personal life without facing burnout. This includes having strong, clear boundaries that you’re able and willing to enforce in all areas of your life. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance lets you make the most of all facets of your life without being stretched too thin or chasing unattainable standards.
Work-Life Balance in STEM
In recent years, “work-life balance” has become a buzzword with a lot of employers. STEM companies see their employees wanting to juggle their careers and personal lives, yet want to still get the most out of their workers.
In the STEM industry, especially companies with startup cultures, it’s becoming increasingly common for employers to answer their workers’ concerns about work-life balance by overcompensating with game rooms, beanbag chairs, and fancy cold brew coffee bars – all under the guise of “helping work-life balance.”
Unfortunately, this misses the mark, since in-office amenities have little to do with what most workers care most about when it comes to juggling the many facets of their lives. It can be tempting to flock to jobs that offer these kinds of perks, thinking flashy benefits will signal that the company is keyed into their employees’ deeper needs. However, this isn’t always true.
Why Work-Life Balance is Important
Workplace stress has been called the 5th leading cause of death in the United States. Americans have a workaholic culture that encourages them to work themselves to the bone and praises them for burning the candle at both ends. This ethic finds a unique breeding ground in the STEM field, where people tend to be passionate about their work and companies often have loose corporate hierarchies, work schedules, and leave policies. This can make it easy for workers to find themselves working late hours, often without meaning to.
Better Physical and Mental Health
Maintaining a work-life balance isn’t just about making sure you can attend a board meeting and still pick up your kids from soccer practice on time. It’s about giving yourself the time and ability to take proper care of your physical and emotional needs. People who enjoy a good work-life balance can get regular exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and take time to decompress when they need it – all crucial parts of taking care of yourself and keeping yourself happy and healthy.
Improved Impact at Work and Home
Many people worry that if they start setting boundaries at their high-stress job, things will slip through the cracks. But they also often find that when they stop working 14-hour days, they have the energy and brainpower to rethink solutions, solving problems at work and at home with greater efficiency and less energy.
Maintaining a work-life balance can be challenging, especially when you work a high-stress STEM job. But work-life balance is for everyone, including those in the tech industry.