Work-life balance is not a rule set in stone but more like a concept that is different for every individual and might change on a daily basis.
What work-life balance really means? Does it mean that you have to adhere to the 8 hours of work, 8 hours of fun and 8 hours of sleep myth? Would it be possible at all to split the day for certain segments once and for all and live by that for the rest of your life? Is it only the employees’ responsibility to balance between the challenges at work and at home, or can managers help them in it?
Work-life balance is not a rule set in stone but more like a concept that is different for every individual and might change on a daily basis. It is an effort made by every single person dedicating time beside their demanding working hours to their family, friends, personal growth and other personal activities. At the core of this concept there are two key elements that most people would like to tick off at the end of the day: achievement and enjoyment at all segments of life. When was the last time when you asked yourself: what do I want to achieve at my work, in my personal life with my family and friends, and how do I want to grow as a person?
Achievement is easily definable especially in terms of work, but what about enjoyment? Enjoyment can mean everything that makes life worth living: happiness, satisfaction, pride, a sense of well-being, celebration and love. If you are not just trying to get things done and throw them out of the way but smuggle a little enjoyment in the doing, you are one step closer to a achieve a healthier work-life balance.
Employers and managers are not responsible to provide a work-life balance for their employees, but can set an example by their own balanced life on how it could be maintained and can assist to achieve it by providing such opportunities as flextime, paid time off or even company sponsored family events and activities.
Managers can help employees to seek their own work-life balance by introducing the following policies, values, decisions and expectations:
- Flextime: flexible starting and end times can be easily implemented at most workplaces (please, see this blogpost for more details)
- Paid time off: it is different from paid sick leave, personal day off and yearly vacation days. How it is spent is utterly up to the employee who can feel being treated as an adult if such days are given, though managers should make sure that employees spending too much paid time off does not become counterproductive.
- Managers have to set an example: if they keep sending and answering e-mails and phone calls while they are on vacation or on sick leave, it gives the impression to employees that this is what they are expected to do as well: to be available 24/7. Employers should let themselves and their employees to unplug and just enjoy the moment while being at home or anywhere else after hours. Phone calls to subordinates while they are on their well-deserved yearly vacation is strictly forbidden unless it is really important and urgent.
- Allow employees to take unpaid time off if life circumstances require: there might be times in everyone’s lives when a longer period of time off from work would be needed – when a baby is born, when somebody dies, nursing a close relative with serious illness, attending grad school courses that are only available during the day, etc.
- Expect employees to work hard, long hours, even weekends when needed, but make sure that these periods are not constant and don’t stress and burn subordinates out.
- Job-share and part time work opportunities might be good options for mothers with young children or other talented people who could benefit the company but can’t work full time in a given period of their life.
- Sponsored family activities and events can help employees to build a stronger relationship with each other and it might encourage them to stay with the given company and within the region for a longer period of time. Offering possibilities to employees to exercise or even meditate after hours can also help them to improve their work-life balance and even their resilience.
One of the characters in the game FLIGBY, namely Larry, is just right at the door of a new chapter in his life. Will he be able to manage his work-life balance within his changed life conditions? Will he get any help from his subordinate to re-adjust and redefine his priorities? It partly depends on the player as the new General Manager’s decision of Turul Vinery.