Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 1539
, Published on 23 March 2015
We all have come across the Jargon-"Work-Life Balance". In this VUCA world with globalized work culture, a young workforce and a tough competition for retaining the talent, the organizations try to find the solutions through most talked formula of bringing Work-Life Balance to employees.
Image Courtesy: freedigitalphotos.net, arztsamui
But, isn’t fixing time for working hours or involving family of employees with the organization or providing options for vacations or even going for a number of Flexi-Work options just trying to copy- paste what worked for some other organization earlier? Isn’t this just implementing what we read in HR textbooks or articles into workplace without understanding the reality of today?
Work-Life Balance is nothing more than an adage today. The new reality is to go for Work-Life Blend.
What’s wrong with Work-Life Balance
Johnathan Fields, the creativity guru in a recent post reflects that “work-life balance works on an assumption that work is and should be something outside life.
That you work not out of a sense of joy, meaning, purpose, contribution, flow, drive, love and passion. Not within a culture populated by people you love, who are deeply connected by shared values, ideas, visions and energies. But because your work gives you the money to spend the few remaining hours of your “real” life, the one outside work, finally pursuing those all those same things. Often unsuccessfully”
By separating work from life, everyone tries to somehow compartmentalize their job or work in order to enjoy the ‘real’ life. However, it makes one start resenting his/her work as it’s in competition with one’s “life” for the most precious commodities: Energy and Time. And in due course, one starts hating his/her career every time it wins over life.
The reality in today’s corporate world is that we can’t separate the two as our professional lives bleed into our personal lives. The distinction is rapidly becoming thinner, permeable and flexible. We do check our emails on the weekends or in the evenings after reaching home but then we also check our Facebook status or read the online newspapers or blogs during office time.
We attend conference calls or meetings through Skype when we are with our family on vacation but then we also talk with them or WhatsApp our friends when we are at office. With the modern technology and smartphones in every hand, nothing is personal or professional; nothing is restricted or prohibited from one’s reach. Maybe, it’s time to accept that the categorization of Life and Work as separate entity is a thing of the past and the present is that integrates life and work more seamlessly.
There is a change in the meaning of a new normal life and the following trends are bringing that change:
So, what’s the way to excel in this new normal? Its’ time to evolve ourselves in the ways we organize work as well as our lives. Let’s accept that interruptions are a part of life and rather than doing the juggling act to balance work-life, we should look to blend these two inseparable aspects of present day life.
What is Work-Life Blend?
In this model, life and work don’t compete but rather are consistent and symbiotic, with work being seen as an integral part of life.
Work and personal life needs to be treated as allies and that participation in multiple roles, such as parent, partner, friend, employee, can actually enhance physical and psychological well-being -- especially when all of the roles are high quality and managed together.
It encourages us to see ourselves as a whole and integrated person rather than being divided into tiny pieces keeping them isolated and going through emotional labor and stress in an effort to do so.
The 3-legged Stool Approach
Mitch Joel in his new book ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ discusses about focusing on balancing the three legs of life stool rather than work and life
1) Family & Friends : Support to be successful
2) Profession : Job that makes you satisfied
3) Community : Strong community to support the infrastructure of the company you belong to.
By focusing on the blend and ensuring these 3 legs are balanced, an individual can enjoy both personal and professional lives at its fullest. To balance these legs , change has to be brought not only from organizational perspective but also from the employee’s mindset.
What’s the Secret to blend…
By bringing a paradigm shift to the work, this blend could be easily achieved.
• Personalized rather than Rigid
We need to identify what personally energizes us in work and life and move towards that.
Rigid role definitions and organization structures need to become more fluid to accommodate what brings greater flexibility, flow and energy to people.
Empowering the teams to decide on the ways of how and when to achieve their end result can lead to greater productivity with more engaged and energized employees. The same has been successfully replicated in American Express where Customer Services representatives were empowered to decide on their way to work and that boosted the productivity exponentially.
• Work with Passion rather than Work Hard
There are tasks and roles where we work pretty hard and it depletes us of our energy. However, there are type of roles or work which we can do for hours on a stretch and it energizes us, puts us in flow and we enjoy it. The utmost creativity and efficiency comes from these tasks. We need to find what’s that role or task at the workplace that we enjoy doing most and then spend more time on it. Organizations need to help people discover this work by providing options of Job-rotation or work-shifting and accordingly align their career paths around it.
One can identify the work or task that he/she has been made for by using Lauren Bacon’s Balance Matrix
Place your activities in the quadrants w.r.t whether they energize you or deplete you and whose priorities are you attending to by engaging in these activities: your own, or other people’s.
The more you will enjoy your work , more activities will begin to feature in upper-right quadrant of Fun and Purpose. Here, the rewards are more Intrinsic than extrinsic and that will bring that balance every employee desires for.
• Balance on inside rather than outside
We often keep complaining that it’s the demanding job that’s brings the stress to our lives. However, our level of stress has more to do with our response to events than the event or job itself. The solution is to manage the mindsets we have. Working towards skill upgradation and prioritizing the tasks at hand can be the pill to burn that stressed atmosphere.Majority of Organizations provide Learning & development opportunities to employees. Need is to grab those and upgrade yourself.
• Don’t be slaves of the clock
It’s not about managing time but rather managing your attention in what you do. Muti-tasking is what everybody does in today’s world. Focus needs to be directed towards doing efficiently and effectively even if that means doing one task at a time. Juggling between works creates additional stress and reduces productivity.
• Rest & have fun
A relaxed mind breeds a creative idea. One needs to take rest, have fun, pause and then reflect on the challenges at work. Organization culture needs to allow having fun at workplace and bring initiatives that make workplace an enjoyable atmosphere where employees want to come every Monday morning.
Focusing on work-life “blend” instead of work-life “balance” will stop that feeling of guilt about checking office emails at night or scheduling calls during vacations; and in the same perspective not feeling guilty about being in contact talking with our friends, and family members during work time.
Well, that’s the ‘Balance’ which will help the majority of employees, regardless of gender, job type, nationality, or age!!!
This article has been authored by Shashank Jha from SCMHRD