How to attain work-life balance is one of the significant ongoing conversations in the business world.
Some employers are doing their best to contribute to our work-life balance.
We can begin to take ownership as well. Both employers and employees have a vested interest in establishing a reasonable work-life balance.
It is essential to the companies for which we work because it significantly impacts employee well-being, which leads to employee engagement, productivity, and retention.
For the rest of us, striking a balance provides a feeling of stability in our work and personal worlds. The ability to feel whole, creative, and excited at home and at work is a fantastic feeling felt by all around us.
My 40+ year career has shown me that we all have a common understanding of what work-life balance looks like. It’s a shared assumption that we know it when we see it. However, for the sake of this article, I offer the following as a definition of work-life balance: A conscious tension between work and personal life so that one doesn’t dominate the other.
To put some additional context around it: A person who can maintain work-life balance is someone who can assign priority to the demands of both and is flexible in their approach. Overall, this person can get what they want from both according to their goals and their values. It doesn’t have to be 50/50; it just has to be acceptable.
With an established working definition, we can now measure our ability to develop a plan to improve and maintain an equilibrium.
For those changing jobs, considering their current position, or interested in making a post-pandemic change, here are three areas that can disrupt our work-life balance.
- Lengthy Commute – when that dream job, bigger salary, or greater responsibility takes you further from home.
I knew a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist who was working south of Boston and doing quite well. When the opportunity came to work at the Massachusetts General Hospital for a higher wage, he jumped on it. Why not? It was a prestigious teaching hospital that offered him a chance to further his career and more money to support his young and growing family. However, one factor he forgot to add into the mix was the commute. If you’re unfamiliar with Boston traffic, a commute can become a nightmare without warning. Your commute could be one hour one day and 2.5 hours the next. And that’s when the weather isn’t an issue. New England weather is notorious for changing quickly. In winter, frozen roads can turn major highways into parking lots. Speaking of parking lots, parking in the city is difficult to find and very expensive.
These negative factors quickly made the money and prestige lose their appeal. The costs and time of the commute quickly reduced the additional income. Additionally, he was missing a lot of family time. When he returned home at the end of the day, the kids were in bed, and the time he had hoped to have with them was lost. Stability in his personal and professional world was at odds, and a feeling of drudgery and conflict with his personal values was the result. He decided to return to his position south of the city in his young family’s best interest.
- The Management Style of Your Boss.
A boss’s management style conflicting with your personal values can be why a great job goes south. From the outside, a company culture typically looks good on the website and sounds excellent during the hiring process. The culture you’ll experience is that of the team you’re assigned to for your day-to-day work. It’s how they do things on that particular team that will dictate the time you arrive, depart, and how you’re expected to manage your schedule. Much of this culture is dependent on the management style of your supervisor. Management style is so important that, according to Gallup, most people who leave their jobs do so based on their immediate manager’s impact. If the management style of the person who has the most input on our day-to-day operations conflicts with our personal values, we will find it challenging to have a sense of work-life balance.
- Communications Expectations for Off Work Hours.
Some jobs have certain expectations based on unpredictable events. The medical profession, for example, has the emergency room. By definition, it is where unexpected issues come for immediate action. These types of jobs presume that your presence can be expected at odd hours when unexpected events occur.
Some high-pressure positions like certain sales positions, stockbrokers, or attorneys will have clients that want to connect at odd times of the day and night.
For the rest of us, the pandemic has created a situation where we are trying to balance work and our personal lives under the same roof at the same time. That lack of separation has created expectations that we are available at times different from traditional office hours. Having clarity and agreements on those expectations will keep you from having your work and home lives from being on a collision course.
Do You Have Stability in Your Work-life Balance?
Take a moment and ask if you feel whole, creative, and excited at home and at work. If not, evaluate these three topics. What is it about each that adds or subtracts from your ability to live your best life? Maybe you notice some problem areas, and the solution to them seems complicated to sort out.
If you’re interested in finding out more about striking a balance between professional and personal demands, click here to schedule a free 1-hour business coaching consultation with John Bushee, ACC. In that session, you can experience the support coaching provides for your career and life trajectory.