“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” – Thomas Merton
The role of work has changed. Originally regarded as a matter of necessity and survival, work today is also considered to be a source of personal satisfaction and fulfilling one’s own purpose. Just survey the multiple generations, cultures, and cohorts in your workforce and see what you discover. Things change; and as individual priorities have shifted, it is no surprise that work-life balance is STILL an important issue in the workplace today. In a recent survey of our own clients and colleagues, we asked professionals if they believe they are successful in maintaining balance in their personal and professional lives. While 44% of respondents said yes, 35% said no, and almost one quarter, 22%, said they don’t know.
How about you; do you know?
Balance is more than a juggling act. It means being in control and feeling comfortable with your choices. Many, though not all, companies and organizations have implemented work-life programs and policies to support employees and managers in exercising work-life options and situations. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between strong support of work-life balance practices, and positive employee retention, productivity, and customer service ratings. These are all real bottom-line issues.
Think beyond flexible tele-working, liberal leave and benefits policies, or concierge services; work-life balance is more than just what the company does for the individual. It is what individuals do for themselves in attaining meaningful achievement and enjoyment in everyday life. There are 168 hours in the week and when you spend more time in one area of activity, you have less time in another. So keep in mind some inherent realities:
- Not everything is of equal importance in your life and perfect balance doesn’t mean equality
- Your life is constantly changing and you constantly need to reallocate your resources based upon what’s important and how you adapt to those changes
- Things happen that are out of your control but it is up to you to respond to these external forces based upon your own needs
- Change in one area probably impacts all others so be flexible and proactive
- Recognize and accept that you will probably drop a ball or two now and then so keep a watchful eye on your priorities
As an employer, take time to explore your corporate and organizational work-life initiatives as part of overall business practices and policies and work to actively promote and support the idea that employers and employees share the responsibility. As an employee recognize your own roles and responsibilities in relation to everything else going on around you.
Finally, when it comes to work – or anything else that counts – understand and appreciate who you are, what is important to you, and how you want to connect with others. It is only when both company and employee goals and efforts are in sync that true work-life balance can be achieved.