Recently I was consulting with a client on what issues are currently facing her
company. She asked me to stay away from the topic of work/life balance because, in her opinion, it’s not achievable. This company has faced the consequences of
stress and burn-out in the workplace including poor morale, attendance problems, reduced productivity, retention problems and poor customer satisfaction ratings. Employers recognize that out of balance and stressed employees can contribute to all of these things. In fact, work/life balance is one of the most elusive and sought after values in business today. In a recent Aon Consulting poll, 88% of employees say they have a hard time juggling work and life.
The problem is that balance is not something that can be provided as part of a benefits package. One organization can’t offer more work/life balance to its employees than another. Some employers offer a flexible work schedule, child care, financial services, etc. but these things can only help you manage life more efficiently, they can’t give your life direction, momentum or the feeling of balance.
Despite recognition of the problem, surveys show that employees have been driven
further away from achieving work/life balance over the last several years by being pounded consistently with messages like “9% unemployment”, “if we can just survive this economy”, and “doing more with less”. Each of us has been forced to value simply having a job, regardless of how much stress we are under. Many people have had to take on more
responsibility and more tasks just to stay where they are in their careers. Each day has become a race to complete our to-do list and “meet expectations”. That is not seeking balance, that is seeking survival. But staying in this survival mode for too long without moving forward or making progress in life is what leads to burn-out.
The term work/life balance itself suggests that work is what we have to do and life
is what we want to do, and…