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Terms and Definitions

What is work-life balance?

Updated: May 16, 2024

Work-life balance definition and meaning

Work-life balance promotes a healthy equilibrium between employees’ work and personal responsibilities and is nurtured by employers through perks such as flexible schedules, remote work options, and leave time.

More about work-life balance and its purpose

When employers make work-life balance a part of their culture, it typically means finding a way for employees to excel at work while maintaining a healthy, fulfilling life outside the workplace — all while keeping work-related stress to a minimum. It can be important because if an employee is struggling mentally and/or physically when unable to juggle work duties and personal responsibilities, there can be less-than-ideal outcomes.


Employees may experience burnout, unhappiness, and even work-related accidents. On the other hand, employers may find it challenging to recruit quality job candidates for open positions — or find it impossible to keep roles filled once they do onboard new hires.

What contributes to a healthy work-life balance?

There is no one hard and fast definition or set of rules that an organization follows to keep work and personal life on equal footing. However, the following can be a place to start.


  • Leisure time: While earning a living is a must-do for most people, hobbies and interests outside of work are also important. A solid work-life balance typically gives employees the opportunity to pursue personal time and truly disconnect from what is going on at the office (whether remote or in-person). This can include staying away from their email inbox, avoiding Slack channels, and letting calls go to voicemail.
  • Flexible hours: A study by Envoy found that 82% of businesses have a hybrid work policy in place. Flexible hours can make it less stressful for working parents to attend events such as a child’s team sport or take care of obligations such as renewing a driver’s license. A strict 9 to 5 work schedule can sometimes make it more difficult to take care of it all.
  • Perks can be powerful: Flexibility can mean more than offering a hybrid work schedule. For instance, providing employees with amenities such as gym access, child care, and even on-site laundry can all be difference-makers.

What are the benefits of work-life balance for business owners?

Creating a work environment that encourages employees to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal time may be worthwhile for a variety of reasons, including:


  • Reduced employee turnover: Employees are more likely to enjoy their jobs and stay with your company as a result. Since it can cost more to hire new workers than to train current ones, this is a huge plus.
  • Increased engagement: When employees are happy and healthy outside of work, they’ll be more motivated and engaged while on the job. This can lead to improved productivity, a motivated workforce, and business growth.
  • Improved company reputation: Happy employees may tell others about your company, which may lead to more pre-vetted job candidates being referred to your HR department. In addition, employees may be more inclined to post reviews of your organization on job sites such as Glassdoor or Careerbuilder, which can appear in search results when job candidates are researching your company.


How to promote a work-life balance for your employees


Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can help your employees achieve harmony between their projects and their personal lives, such as:


  • Flexible working hours: Consider allowing your employees the opportunity to work non-traditional hours, which may lead to increased productivity. Instead of a traditional work schedule, employees may  begin or end their workdays earlier or later, depending on their personal obligations or when they are apt to accomplish more.
  • Paid time off (PTO): A PTO policy encourages workers to spend some time away from work (and is one of the perks employees think about most). They can use their PTO to go on vacation, relax at home, or tend to personal matters. With PTO, your workers will be able to rest and recharge while still getting paid.
  • Healthy gestures: Making discounts to local fitness centers or putting free healthy snacks in the breakroom can be a subtle way to encourage staffers to pay attention to their well-being. Healthy workers are more likely to become happy workers who take fewer sick days and remain engaged at work.

Using work-life balance in a sentence

“A key reason I was so excited about working for this company was that during the interview process, they emphasized how work-life balance is deeply ingrained in their culture and philosophy.”

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