Figuring out what kind of career you want to have is a bit of a minefield! There are so many factors to take into account, such as salary, location, opportunities for progression and, of course, what you will actually be doing every day.
Almost half (47%) of us want a career change, while for millennials the figure is even higher (66%). However, the stereotype of the job-hopping millennial appears to be an unfounded myth. We are all job-hoppers: people change jobs 10 to 15 times in their lifetime.
So with so many people currently dissatisfied in their current job, and apparently dissatisfied with many other subsequent jobs, this raises an important question: what do people’s jobs lack? Why is it so difficult to find a career in which you can feel fulfilled, and not restless, itching to quit and work somewhere else?
There are myriad reasons for job dissatisfaction. But one key contributing factor, and one which pervades UK work culture, is a lack of work-life balance.
It’s time to discard this attitude of ‘all work and no play’
Work-life balance is all about giving the right amount of priority to work and other aspects of your life. And what is the right amount of priority you should give to work? Well, this will vary from person to person.
Someone may be extremely career-minded, so for them a truly satisfying life would involve focusing more on their career compared to someone else who might be more family-oriented.
Nonetheless, many people are in jobs in which they feel that too much of their time is consumed by work, while other important areas of their life are being starved of attention, including family, friends, health, leisure, hobbies and personal projects.
The outcome of establishing and maintaining work-life balance is that it boosts our well-being. And when we are happier, we work more productively. Moreover, increasing employee satisfaction can reduce a company’s turnover rate; so it really is in the interest of employers to ensure that they do not promote a culture of overworking. Indeed, it’s that kind of stress – and the poor mental health that often follows – is what leads many employees to think about quitting.
You can tell how work-life balance is lacking in UK work culture by the fact that people will come into work when they’re unwell – be it physically or mentally. When you are unwell, you are meant to be resting and recuperating.
Essentially, if you are able to show up, you may feel expected to do so. If other employees come into work when they’re ill, then you may fear looking lazy if you call in sick. If you want to make a good impression, work hard and progress in the company, then working while ill will seem like a no-brainer.
But as much as this expectation to ‘suffer in silence’ and ‘push through’ may on the surface indicate a commitment to success, it is kind of backwards. Working while experiencing poor mental or physical health results in significant losses in productivity, and since work itself can be a major source of stress, going into work unwell may only prolong the problem.
Also, if you’re going into work coughing, sneezing and shaking people’s hands, then you’re may end up getting some other people sick. This really doesn't make any sense from the perspective of the employer (not to mention your co-workers).
How to find a job that offers work-life balance
Sometimes we have no choice but to work long hours, for various reasons. But if you are fortunate enough to be able to choose from careers with different levels of busyness and hours, then it may be in your best interest overall to forgo a higher salary for the sake of fewer hours, and more free time to live out your personal life.
Between different 9-to-5 roles, there will also be variations in work-life balance. The industry in question is important. For example, will you be expected to reply to work emails after work? How hectic is your work day likely to be? Will you be micromanaged? Does the work culture seem friendly and laid-back or serious and rigid? Is there the option of remote-working on some days? How much flexibility is involved in the role?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself when applying to jobs, going to job interviews and considering job offers. Work-life balance is not about wanting to have fun at the expense of your career. It’s about looking after your well-being so that your career (and your life as a whole) can be enriched.
Sam Woolfe writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website. For senior roles, see the Inspiring Search page.