The expression "work-life balance" was first used in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individual's work and personal life.

Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a substantial increase in work which is felt to be due, in part, by information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment. Long-term loyalty and a “sense of corporate community” have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from their employees yet offers little security in return. Many experts forecasted that technology would eliminate most household chores and provide people with much more time to enjoy leisure activities; unfortunately, many have decided to ignore this option being “egged on” by a consumerist culture and a political agenda that has “elevated the work ethic to unprecedented heights and thereby reinforced the low value and worth attached to parenting.” In her recent book, Willing Slaves – How the Overwork Culture is Ruling our Lives”, Madeleine Bunting stated that from 1977 to 1997 Americans working full time have increased their average working hours from 43.6 hours to 47.1 hours each week. (This does not include time required to travel to and from their places of business).

Many Americans are experiencing burnout due to overwork and increased stress. This condition is seen in nearly all occupations from blue collar workers to upper management. Over the past decade, a rise in workplace violence, an increase in levels of absenteeism as well as rising workers’ compensation claims are all evidence of an unhealthy work life balance. Employee assistance professionals say there are many causes for this situation ranging from personal ambition and the pressure of family obligations to the accelerating pace of technology. According to a recent study for the Center for Work-Life Policy, 1.7 million people consider their jobs and their work hours excessive because of globalization. These difficult and exhausting conditions are having adverse effects. According to the Study Fifty percent of top corporate executives are leaving their current positions. Although sixty-four percent of workers feel that their work pressures are “self-inflicted”, they state that it is taking a toll on them. The study shows that, nationally, seventy percent, and globally, eighty-one percent, say their jobs are affecting their health. Between forty-six and fifty-nine percent of workers feel that stress is affecting their interpersonal and sexual relationships. Additionally, men feel that there is a certain stigma associated with saying “I can’t do this”.

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Author's Bio: 

This definition is part of a series that covers the topic of Life Work Balance. The Official Guide to Life Work Balance is Gabriela Cora. Dr. Gaby Cora is a wellness coach, keynote speaker, medical doctor with a master’s in business administration, corporate consultant, spouse and mother of two young adults. She works with people and companies that want to be healthy while they become wealthy. Dr. Cora is the author of The Power of Wellbeing® Series: Leading under Pressure®, Managing Work in Life®, and Quantum Wellbeing. She’s president of The Executive Health & Wealth Institute.

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