Recovery, Work Life Balance And Wellbeing

Recovery, work-life balance and wellbeing

Published: 12/04/2021

Author: Dr Gail Kinman

My work focuses on the health and wellbeing of people who do emotionally demanding work. A particular interest is in developing systemic interventions to support resilience and wellbeing in health and social work organisations.

In an upcoming webinar on recovery, work-life balance, wellbeing: how to switch off I will be discussing the importance of switching off from work psychologically and providing some evidence-informed strategies to help practitioners develop healthy boundaries between their work and their personal life.

Social care practitioners often struggle to ‘switch off’ from work psychologically, which can increase the risk of work-life conflict and burnout. Switching off can be a particular challenge when people are homeworking – the rapid rise in remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the risk for many. Physical and psychological boundaries between ‘work’ and ‘home’ have eroded or may have disappeared entirely and many people are struggling to juggle the demands of their work and caring responsibilities and find time for self-care.

Our recent research using the Social Work Organisational Diagnostic (SWORD) framework included some questions about the COVID-19 crisis, with a particular focus on people’s experiences of working at home. We found that many social care practitioners are finding it more difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance when working off-site. Nonetheless, whether practitioners work at home, on-site (or a mixture of the two), they need practical and effective strategies to help them switch off and recoup their mental and physical energies – not only to protect their health but also to help them provide the best possible service to the families they support.  

In the webinar, I will highlight the risks of failing to switch off from work and the benefits of ‘detaching’ oneself psychologically for health and wellbeing. Also outlined will be a range of evidence-informed strategies that can help practitioners avoid unhelpful rumination and disconnect from work worries and concerns. People who are working with trauma in home environments are likely to need additional support. I will also draw on useful insights gained from recent training sessions with social care practitioners regarding the creative methods they use to set boundaries and ‘transition’ from home to work and back again. Those taking part in this webinar will also be encouraged to share your own experiences to identify ‘what works’, the barriers to maintaining effective work-life balance strategies, and how they might be overcome.

People differ in the extent to which they prefer their work and personal life to be connected – some prefer total separation, some can happily juggle work and personal roles almost simultaneously, while others tend to ‘volley’ between one and the other, according to the situation. Whatever their preferences, however, everyone benefits from some separation as this helps us remain healthy and productive. You will have the opportunity to consider your own boundary management styles and how you can get a better ‘fit’ between your current and ‘ideal’ work-life balance. Other ways of improving work-life balance and wellbeing will also be considered, such as developing a personal wellness action plan.

Join us on the 22 April between 14:00-15:30 at Recovery, work-life balance, wellbeing: how to switch off – Webinar.

Further reading and resources

Dr Gail Kinman

Dr Gail Kinman is a Visiting Professor of Occupational Health Psychology at Birkbeck, University of London.

References

Anderson, D. & Kelliher, C. (2020). Enforced remote working and the work-life interface during lockdown. Gender in Management.

Bae, J. et al. (2019). Compassion satisfaction among social work practitioners: the role of work-life balance. Journal of Social Service Research, 46, 3.

Health and Safety Executive. (2021). Home workers.

Grant, L. & Kinman, G. (2014). Developing resilience for social work practice. Palgrave. Chapter 3 The work/home interface – building effective boundaries.

Grant, Christine, Russell, Emma (Eds.) (2020). Agile Working and Well-Being in the Digital Age. Palgrave Macmillan.

Kinman, G. et al. (2020). Working from home: healthy sustainable working during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. British Psychological Society.

Kossek, E. & Lautsch, B. (2007). The CEO of me: creating a life that works in the flexible job age. Pearson

Mind. (2021). Working from home: A Wellness Action Plan.

Tehrani, N. et al. (2020). Taking trauma related work home – advice for reducing the likelihood of secondary trauma. British Psychological Society.

Travers, C., Maher, K., Kinman, G. & Bateman, N. (2020). “We are not working at home, but are at home, during a pandemic, attempting to work”: Exploring experiences of homeworking and work-life balance during the Covid-19 crisis. Work-life Balance Bulletin. 4,1, 10-16.