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You hear a lot about ‘balance’ these days and if you look it up in the dictionary, it is about things being equal. The use of a scale is mentioned in most definitions. Work-life balance is a concept of particular interest to many nurses. Work–life balance is defined, by some, as the equilibrium between one’s paid or professional life and one’s personal life or non-work life. It reflects the ability to achieve and maintain equality between work and life outside work that is acceptable to a person. Some describe a person with work–life balance as one who works to live rather than lives to work.

Work–life balance is an element that has been focused upon in creating healthy work environments for all nurses. The lack of work–life balance because of heavy workloads and little time for other aspects of life has been identified as a major contributor to low levels of job satisfaction among nurses, which can lead to early departure from their positions or leaving the profession entirely.

The concept of work–life balance is important today, but it is expected to take on increasing importance in the future as subsequent generations of nurses enter the workforce. Newer generations of nurses are said to place greater emphasis on work–life balance, value it more, and be less likely to settle for what they perceive as poor work–life balance compared to individuals from older generations. Some view this commitment of new generations of nurses to having greater work–life balance as a positive change, but nurses from earlier generations and those approaching retirement age may have different views about what is an acceptable work–life balance and its impact on their work environment and workload. These divergent views about what is expected and what is an acceptable work–life balance can and do result in tension between those working side by side in nursing roles in various settings. Generational differences in individuals’ views about work–life balance, the increasing complexities and stresses of the nursing profession, and the need to weigh the concept all suggest the need to examine the issue more closely.

Due to the growing importance of work–life balance to nurses, studies of this concept are needed. As the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nursing Measurement, I have a vested interest in researchers being able to measure or weigh the concept. A new study on this concept with an accompanying guest editorial can be found in the April issue of the Journal of Nursing Measurement. The study is entitled ‘Psychometric Analysis of the Work-Life Balance Scale’  authored by Suzanne C. Smeltzer, EdD, RN, FAAN, Mary Ann Cantrell, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN, Nancy C. Sharts-Hopko, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Mary Ann Heverly, PhD, from Villanova University College of Nursing. I encourage you to read both the editorial and the article and think more about what work-life balance means to you.

Janice L. Hinkle, PhD, RN, CNRN
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