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‘Supportive behaviour of co-workers and family members can help one strike a healthy work-life balance’ 

Aarti Verma, an Assistant Professor with ACFA, has conducted a research study on Work-Life Balance of Bank Employees



Her inquisitiveness inspired Aarti Verma, an Assistant Professor in the PG Department of Commerce and Management at the Apeejay College of Fine Arts (ACFA), Jalandhar, to conduct a research study on one of the most crucial and trending topics in the present scenario: ‘Work-Life Balance of Bank Employees’. She says, “The prime focus of my PhD thesis was to identify the actual constraints relating to the work-life balance of employees in public, private and cooperative sector banks particularly in the Punjab region.”  In an interview, she explains how government initiatives, implementation of appropriate employee-friendly policies and supportive family atmosphere can help strike a balance between personal and professional life. Edited excerpts:

Why did you choose this topic?

It’s a known fact that both family and professional activities play a dominant role in the life of a working individual. Moreover, due to increasing demand to diversify job profiles, extended working hours, and pressure to complete projects within given timelines, employees have to struggle between personal and professional life realms. During the last two decades, various issues relating to work- life balance have sought the attention of many researchers across the nation.

While conducting my research, I identified visible research gaps in the erstwhile studies concerning work-life balance and its related issues. Initially, in India issues pertaining to work-life balance surfaced in the corporate sector, particularly in the IT industry. In order to solve such issues, the IT industry as a whole customised work-life balance practices as per their own requirements which cannot be applied universally in all other fields. Eventually, it was realised through various studies that the service sector (say the banking or insurance industry) has experienced structural changes over the past two decades, as a result, it has altered the role and obligations of its employees. Moreover, in India, banking is one of the most prominent sectors. Most importantly, it adds to the economic growth of our nation. Therefore, an in-depth analytical study of work-life balance in the banking system is mandatory to be conducted so as to identify actual constraints hampering the work-life balance of the employees. Also, my PhD mentor Dr. Rajesh Bagga, Director, Apeejay Institute of Management and  Engineering  Technical, Jalandhar, motivated me to pursue my research on work-life balance.

The sudden onset of the global pandemic forced organisations to adopt the work from home model. However, banks were exempted from such a model as it came under essential services. As per your research, how did they strike a balance between work and life?

 As far as the pandemic is concerned, the research related to work-life balance has gained more attention in every field specifically healthcare, banking and insurance. We all know that frontline workers, medical practitioners and bank employees did not get much exemption during this critical time. The provision of work from home was not applicable in these professions. Still, with the frequent legal advisories from the HRD and Health ministries, bank employees got the motivation to sustain at their working place with full zeal. Moreover, there were limited working hours, change in shifts and implementation of precautionary modes that strengthened the bank employees to work during the COVID-induced lockdown phase. In addition to this, supportive and sensitive behaviour of family members and co-workers acted as great motivating tools to strike a balance between their personal as well professional lives.

Two key factors that influence the work-life balance of women employees in the banking sector?

Women employees always remain the primary subject matter to study the issues concerning work-life balance. As per the Indian societal system, the burden of fulfilling family responsibilities lies more on the women. For every working woman, filling the gap between family obligations as well as executing their professional responsibilities bring an extra burden. But during my data collection using a questionnaire, I found out that with the increasing trend of dual-earners and the nuclear family system, issues of work-life balance affect both male and females up to some extent. During personal interactive sessions, women bank employees admitted that the supportive family atmosphere and employee-friendly policies of banks make it feasible to balance between their personal and professional lives. Still, the work-life balance practices need to be revised on a frequent basis.

Why is it important to maintain a work-life balance? Three ways one can improve work-life balance today

In the present competitive era, every job demands burdensome working hours, the pressure to meet deadlines, uncertain shifts especially during closing days, while sometimes employees ignore social and family life etc. Due to all these, they face anxiety which curtails their morale and deteriorates their personal lives. Hence, to enjoy a peaceful life, one must know basic mantras to strike a balance between stress of personal and professional life.

Three ways that need to be practiced are:

Firstly, the government should make legal provisions relating to work-life balance practices which every employer has to abide by. It may be related to working hours, job sharing, special provisions for elder care as well as related to mental health of employees. Secondly, employers should take the initiative to conduct interactive sessions to know about the personal issues of their employees and make frequent efforts to revise/incorporate work-life balance policies accordingly.
Finally, employees must exercise the various techniques of time and stress management, ensure to spend quality time with their family and spare some time for relaxation. They should also implement time management techniques with a committed and positive approach towards their jobs.

In conclusion, I would like to add that though there is no tailor-made method to implement work-life balance. It may vary according to the origin of a place, industry and as per individual perceptions. Government initiatives, implementation of appropriate employee-friendly policies and supportive family atmosphere are key factors to strike the balance between personal and professional life.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay Newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.