Question Proposed on LinkedIn: Work life balance: is it possible?

Others’ Responses:

– We call it work/life/UNbalance because if your priorities lean more toward life (home, family, personal development), then you will naturally be happier at work and more productive.

– I refer to it not as work/life balance but rather integration. This shifts the focus away from assuming that if you cannot find that balance, the employee is doing something wrong…or not doing something right. Additionally, while the article references “compassionate” bosses or managers, this is not how employees truly achieve work/life integration which, depending upon your lifecycle and a host of other factors, changes over time. Rather, it’s evaluating the accessibility of flexible work options, whether there is a focus on productivity vs. face time, and having an organizational awareness and support of the fact that today’s employees are facing far different challenges than in years past and as such, new policies and programs are needed.

– I find having a “collaborating partner” to have some interesting and telling insights into the differences between male executives and female executives. Women viewed a collaborative partner as one who tolerates the demands of her work, whereas “many” of the male executives see a collaborative partner as one who supports the home life, namely a stay at home wife. Does this make it easier or harder for female executives to find “balance”? If integration is the goal, then I think women may find this easier to achieve.

– I think it is possible but demands hard work. As a professional you have to analyze when an activity requires your presence and when you can relay on a co-worker. Building good communication and having a good team makes this possible.

– To begin with ,Initial phase of employment , people enjoy work and draw maximum satisfaction for various purposes keeping in view career growth, professional recognition and reward, societal status. After acquiring the proficiency and level competency they look at the life for betterment. Work and life are two sides of the coin. when toss it ,one side face the earth and other faces the world depending upon the spin/toss. work and life coexist. While doing work. life supplements energy and enthusiasm and while living life, work provides pride an status.In every phase of work – Life,cycle one complements the other . Work life balance is individualistic in nature and not system made. Pre active planning in work and life makes the work and life more purposeful and meaningful.

– A work life balance is indeed possible if the working model is reviewed. Very often, the time spent at the office is accorded a lot of importance. If instead, the work were to be measured,that would be useful. In fact, people would be motivated to put their heads down and work, knowing they would get home on time

– I have grown to believe balance is difficult based on the very concept of putting the energy into walking the fine line to keep from tipping over falling (like a tightrope). The key is work life integration. This requires flexibility and organizing your life in a wholistic manner rather than 2 opposing forces. It is a different mindset.

– I see work-life balance layered with responsibilities and choices. For example, you may choose a certain career, enjoy and do well with it, BUT if it does not match one or two of your top values (spending time with family & friends, or just alone time), then it wears you down over time. Most people tend to give it their all the first few years of a career choice, BUT if there is not adequate down time to fulfill top values, dissonance creeps in. This can go the other way, too. For example, a certain career was chosen to accommodate what was believed to be a top value and dissonance occurs anyway. It is wise to assess values and the relationship to identity again.

– One interesting fact is that what we refer to as work-life balance or integration of professional and personal lives is that this is much less an issue in the rest of the developed economies than it is here in the US. I work frequently with global companies and there are distinctive differences. Europeans for example have cultural norms that allow for flexible work arrangements, extended paid maternity leave for both parents, paid leave to care for elderly parents, less pressure to work weekends on a regular basis, and of course they religiously take their 3 weeks or more vacation each year. In the US, the vast majority of both men and women are reluctant to even ask for time off to care for an ill kid, let alone take earned vacation time for fear of hurting their career opportunities. I know many American C-Suite executives who consider working 24/7 an indication of commitment to the company. And the same group who value “multi-tasking” even though there is consistent research that shows that multi-tasking limits comprehension and undermines performance on each of the tasks trying to be completed at one time. We may experience a cultural shift in the US as the younger workers expect and demand more flexibility in how they manage their work lives.

– Instead of Work-Life Balance, I prefer the term Work-Life Choice. We are constantly making choices on what to focus on based on our personal values, vision and mission. Using the term “balance” implies equilibrium between the two (picture an playground see-saw), which isn’t realistic in most situations.

– The question implies that Life is everything that is not work – that is a mistake. Work is a part of life.

– When we do what we love and we love what we do we don’t feel unfair or guilty towards our personal life because work is passion and part of our life satisfaction that’s why we give too much of ourselves to grow and improve our life status … you feel achievment and success has made of you another person..but honestly what we need is recognition .once you start feeling that you are giving more than what you are taking and nothing in return you surely will start feeling unfair and start seeking self-satisfaction outside, that time you will feel that you dont have your work/life i would say the organization’s recognition and a helpful coworker or team is the most important for me.

– An underlying issue I see is that of control. When we feel that our lives are controlled by others ( the company we work for) rather than by ourselves we feel alienated. Not everyone has alternatives and choices and thus the courage to set boundaries allowing regaining of such control. Employers should realize that to spur productivity and commitment it needs to demonstrate genuine caring for its employees as full human beings.

– Debra had the kindness to (very promptly) reply to me regarding the doubt of need of compassionate bosses. I finally found the way to share her point of view, since she really meant to reply publicly. Her answer is: “If employees needed to find a "compassionate boss” in order to acquire a level of work/life integration that made it possible for them to remain productive at work while being able to manage home/life responsibilities, the entire work/life *arena* would be in trouble. Rather, managers/leaders need education and awareness-building – to recognize the “life realities” facing employees today and how these realities directly correlate to everything from recruitment to retention of top performers. Companies today are focusing heavily on health and stress, yet the leap has not been made to recognize the broad issues that directly correlate to the health and stress issues that companies are trying to target. It definitely helps if a leader or manager has lived (or is living) the work/life challenges as it brings a level of personal experience to the mix. And if they have “been there/done that,” they “get it” at a more direct level. Yet even if not, the focus needs to be on changing how managers manage…on recognizing that life responsibilities today are vastly different than they were 30 years ago…and that they need to focus on productivity and results vs. the “traditional” 9-5, two-weeks vacation, and 5 sick days model. It simply no longer works.“

– I don’t believe that employees should have the need to find a more compassionate boss. Indeed, managers should be mindful about the kind of time that they are making people spend in the office. There needs to be a way to get the work completed in the stipulated time frame

– I really like Ira’s point about the difference between the US and other developed countries in that job flexibility and vacation time are much more important there than in the US. This next generation in America seems to share that value and may indeed help to change the benefits packages so that flexibility and time off are critical to one’s well being. As an independent consultant, I enjoy this flexibility in that I can pick up my grandson from school, catch lunch or dinner when a friend or colleague spontaneously comes to town, or take a nap because I didn’t sleep well. My brain works better – sharper and faster – and I am 100% engaged. Sure there are times that I must push for deadlines or perform when I’m less than 100%, but these are of my own making, so dopamine kicks in and performance is enhanced to fill the gap. Love that dopamine!

My Response:

– Schedule priorities. If you need more time with outside work activities or spending time with your spouse/kids, arrange it so everyone is on board. Open up everyone’s calendars, mark a date, and stick to it no matter what. The only way to survive this ultra competitive life we lead based around work is to have time off and time spent with loved ones. The only way to do that is to actually execute events together. The only way to do that is scheduling those events. You schedule meetings with your employees, so start scheduling with your family too. They’re more important anyways.

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