Teeter Totter – Work/Life Balance Unplugged

What does your employer think when you say you want better balance in life? Right away, they may think you are going to want more personal time and not to work as hard. They may assume they are going to get less work out of you. The boss may bristle at the thought of you getting more personal time, when he/she does not get that. They may also be upset with you for even asking the question about flex time or for more ‘balance.’ Only a slacker would ask to get out of work and still be paid the same.

I encourage employees and employers to understand that we should all expect to be 100% engaged at work, and 100% engaged at home. That is fair for everyone. I believe we will always spend more time at work – since maybe 70-80% of our time is work – but the few hours we have at home we need to be 100% engaged. We need to be focused at home or with whatever activity we believe drives our inner values, aside from the work environment.

Employers look at the balance of life discussion as a time management discussion. It is not, rather balance of life is an energy, engagement, and results management discussion.

In the 1960’s we managed time clocks and absenteeism in a sweatshop, union-centric hard goods era. Today’s economy is an intellectual mindset, and we are all expected to utilize not just our hands and feet to get work done, rather we also are expected to bring our mind and heart.

Balance of life is what Facebook, Google, Amazon, Zappos, and other employee-centered organizations are employing to build greater results and employee engagement. Balance of life means work, learning, and fun being in one big ball, driving more engagement, productivity, and results. And that effort to build greater satisfaction and engagement at work, gives us strength and energy to support those other things in our life we say are most important.

Balance of life may involve a flex time discussion, depending on the type of work, expectations of what good looks like in the role, and the drive time. The days of a manager standing at the front door with a stopwatch or timer to make sure employees aren’t late or leaving early are throwbacks to 1960. We all know you can stand over me while I work, and I will perform poorly compared to being given some autonomy, which allows me to think and create so my energy is best aligned for my greatest effort. This allows me ro be less worried about what you think as you watch me work.

It begins with us turning phones off at dinner time and not sneaking into the bathroom to get a few more emails done. Balance of life starts with our own commitment to our values, with the time we already have been given, versus expecting our employer to give us more time. We all have the same time.

If I gave you a 25 hour day, what would you do with the extra hour? More exercise? More time with the kids? No, I suspect most of us would do more emails, just like we do now.

Balance of life starts with our own commitment through our actions.

Jim

 

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