The term “worklife balance” has been a staple of the workplace for years, but for most people, it’s been mostly about making ends meet.
Now, researchers have found that the word is being misused by employers to describe the best way to keep employees busy.
But a new study published in the American Economic Review finds that even in the absence of specific work rules, there’s a common thread between work-life balance policies that can help prevent burnout, burnout-related illnesses, and other health issues.
In particular, the researchers found that when employers focus on creating more productive and flexible workforces, they can prevent burnouts and burnout related illnesses.
“If we’re talking about the people that we want to recruit into our organizations, and who are going to be engaged in activities, then we should be focused on having a work-health-and-safety policy,” study author Andrew J. Bostrom, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told Wired.
“That’s going to have the most impact.”
The study looked at data from 1,711 U.S. businesses.
The researchers found two main trends in terms of what employees were doing during the day and what they were doing on the weekend: One was that employers focused more on the overall health of their employees, while the other was that they focused more specifically on how employees were managing their workload.
When people were more engaged on the weekends, for example, their energy levels rose and their productivity improved, according to the study.
When employees were not engaging in activities during the workday, their health decreased.
These findings may explain why burnout and burnouts related illnesses are rising and could help explain why more and more Americans are being forced to quit their jobs every year, according the researchers.
The authors of the study also found that, on average, people were spending roughly 30% more on food per day than they would be if they were working on average 30 hours a week.
And when employees were working in the workplace longer hours, they also spent more on health care expenses, according a report from the University the same researchers conducted last year.
A similar study from 2013 found that employers were spending about 17% more per employee on health insurance premiums and 16% more each year on health benefits than they were on average.
“We were surprised to find that these types of trends have not gone away,” Bostroom said in an interview with Wired.
That could be because employers are also creating more flexible work environments.
“It’s probably the best thing that could happen to our employees,” Boverom said.
But even if they aren’t making employees work more hours, it might still be important to make sure that they’re spending less time at work.
“You’re not going to get the same health benefits that you’d get if you had more flexible working conditions,” Bosell said.
“The biggest concern is that these flexible working arrangements don’t actually create a work environment that is conducive to employees to have an optimal work-day.”
This is a developing story.
We will continue to update this article with new information as it becomes available.
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