Why is work life balance important in the 24/7 tourism industry?
12th November 2019
Are you one of the 3.5 million people that currently work in the UK tourism industry?
Is finding a healthy work-life balance something that you are struggling with?
If the answer is YES, you have come to the right place!
What’s work life balance about?
Since 2010, tourism has been the fastest growing sector in the UK in employment terms (visit Britain).
This means that more and more of us are now choosing to work in the UK tourism industry and many of the jobs can include long and anti-social hours (there is nothing more heart-breaking than having to work late on a Saturday night while the rest of our friends are out partying!)
These long anti-social hours can be damaging and draining for us and increases the risk of developing or worsening existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, as well as affecting our social life and sleeping pattern.
The tourism industry is different from any other industry because it operates 24/7 365 days a year.
Somebody wants to check into a hotel on Christmas Day? We will be there to do that, missing out on precious time with our family.
Work life balance is the idea that you have time for both work and other aspects of your life. Finding and maintaining this is essential so that you avoide spending too much time at work, when productivity can fall, and personal relationships can become strained.
A Mental Health Foundation survey shockingly reported that one third of respondents felt unhappy or very unhappy about the time they devote to work and more than 40% of employees were neglecting other aspects of their life because of work – these are worrying statistics!
Balance is Key!
Just a few weeks ago, shadow chancellor John McDonnell announced that a Labour government would aim to shift the UK towards a 32-hour working week within the next ten years, saying the move should happen without any loss of pay for workers.
McDonald stated that “We should work to live, not live to work”.
This proposal could really be the start of something new if it could work for the tourism industry! However, it did not come out of nowhere. Work -life balance has been a topic on both employers and employees’ minds for the last 20-30 years and is yet to lose its buzz.
Did you know that….?
Britain’s long hours culture is nothing to be proud of (Trades Union Congress, 2019). Britons are putting in the longest hours in the EU, with an average of 42.5 hours a week, putting them above the European average of 41.2. Meanwhile, Denmark has 37 hours, followed by countries such as Holland, Italy, Belgium, France, Sweden and Ireland which have 39.0 hours.
Better work life balance is critically needed in the UK as workers already put in more than £32 billion worth of unpaid overtime last year. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) warns that employers must not steal their workers time as many of us are willing to put in a few extra hours when it’s needed, but too many employers are starting to take advantage.
A reduction of working time for all of us in the tourism industry will not be easy but the 32 working hour proposal can possibly change our lives for the better!
Steps for you to follow:
The Labour proposal may take up to 10 years to implement (if they get elected!) so it is important that we take control ourselves and take tiny steps each day.
Here are some helpful little steps for you to start your journey so that you may achieve a better work life balance:
- Learn to say NO– If you are finding your workload too demanding, avoid taking overtime.
- Time-management– You need to recognize that time and life are limited, especially spending time with your family, so make sure you make the best use of your time, instead of working long hours.
- Flexible work- Try to get a greater flexible schedule to fit into your lifestyle.
- Prioritise – “Work smart, not long”! Set yourself limited periods of time for a specific piece of work and remember to take your annual leave.
- Separate work from home life – Do not let relationships with friends and family suffer because of long hours. Try your hardest to spend at least one day of the weekend free with friends and family.
- Get advice – Talk to your colleagues about their work/life balance and find out how they are managing it effectively.
- Self management– Make sure you are looking after yourself by having proper sleep, nutrition and exercise. You are the only person in charge of yourself.
What steps are you going to take?
These steps may not change your work life balance instantly, however small steps can make a big difference.
Let us know if you think you currently have a good work life balance in the comment section below!