Fall is in full swing, kids are back in school, and the holiday chaos is right around the corner…we know…probably a bit too soon for that little reminder. So, how do we, as working adults manage to navigate our responsibilities successfully at work and at home in one of the busiest times of the year? That may be a rhetorical question…but in all seriousness, it’s tough. However, having an employer who values work-life balance can be instrumental in maintaining sanity, general order in life, and helping us to achieve our career, personal and familial goals.
As recruiters, we speak with job seekers every day and when asked what they are looking for in their next role, 9 times out of 10, the phrase “work-life balance” is a key factor in their search. But what exactly does this mean? We asked around and here is what work-life balance means for some:
“Life is a roller coaster with ever changing priorities. Work life balance for me is the ability to recognize which portion of my life needs to be prioritized at that moment and the ability to feel supported in my decision to give that portion of my life more of my attention. Whether that means by my boss and upper management or by my partner. Most of the time that means giving more of my attention to my family (especially at this stage in life with small children). The ability to not have to feel guilty in doing this is when I feel most balanced.”
“Spending equal or more time with family than at work. Work consumes 40 hours, so my family needs to get the same or more.”
“In today’s business world we are connected 24/7 and because of this, in order for a business to reach its full potential, it must offer employees a good work-life balance. Prior to everyone being connected all of the time, it made sense to have strict times/rules of when you needed to be sitting in your desk and when you can leave. Now, most employees are responding to emails and phone calls during all waking hours, not only during the week, but also on the weekend. Within this environment, work-life balance means being flexible to employees for such things as leaving for their kids’ school plays, coming in late because of a Dr.’s appointment, leaving a little early on a Friday because of a weekend trip, etc. Businesses, like people, must adjust to the world today or they will be passed by those who are adapting to the times…”
An employer who appreciates work-life balance will likely have a more content, engaged and productive workforce. When we are offered flexibility without guilt, when our contributions at work are valued with the understanding that we are humans outside of the work-place, and when we are empowered and trusted, we just may be more likely to perform at our very best.
A great employer can have significant impact in helping achieve one’s optimal work-life balance. Although when that is not possible, or simply not enough, here are a few ideas that might help in attaining a little more balance in your life:
- Set daily goals. Each day set goals for both your work and home life. Be a traditionalist – take out that paper notebook and make a list. You may not cross everything off that list each day, however just the visual aspect and sense of organization can do wonders. And let’s be honest, how good does it feel to see things crossed off a list? That is gratification at it’s finest.
- Prioritize things. It’s OK to say no. This is something, that for some, can be incredibly difficult to do. Accomplishing the important things and leaving the minuscule things by the wayside is completely OK. Hey, guess what…it’s OK to leave that dish in the sink, and it’s OK to not respond to a non-critical email at 9:00 pm. Prioritization can help you be more present and balanced in both your work and personal life.
- Put down the Phone. It’s probably safe to assume that most of us are guilty of having our phones by our sides at all times. We are constantly connected. Think about 15 -20 years ago…we didn’t have the ability to be “on” 24/7. We were forced to disconnect and be more present. That level of disconnection is not likely doable this day in age, but there are a few things you can do. Why not try leaving your phone in another room for a few hours each night. If a few hours seems a bit too aggressive, start small. Put the phone away for an hour after you get home from work. If you’re ready to rip the band-aid right off, perhaps try the “no phones enter the bedroom” rule. Imagine how refreshing it would it be to not have your email be the last thing you see before dozing off and the first thing you see upon awakening. What a novel concept! And maybe take it one step further and try this rule with the whole family…if you have a tween or teen in your life, I’m certain a little less Fortnight gaming would greatly welcomed (maybe not by them…but…you get the idea).
- Hire it out. With so many services out there, why not hire the mundane tasks out when you can. Try ordering your groceries online and having them delivered; avoiding the Saturday morning grocery store chaos is well worth the small delivery fee. And what about hiring a cleaning service to help every other week or even just once per month? Freeing up that valuable weekend time, can do wonders for your sanity. If you’ve got neighborhood kids wanting to make some extra money, hire them to cut the grass, rake the leaves or iron your clothes. Alleviating the stress of completing menial tasks around the house, can allow you to focus on the more fun and generally important aspects of life.
- Find a job or an employer that you love and that values YOU. If work doesn’t feel like “work” or your employer offers flexible hours, telecommuting, or other services that benefit one’s well-being, such as an on-site gym, on-site daycare, dry-cleaning services, yoga classes over lunch, massage therapists on-site (yes…this actually exists), etc., you might be a little more likely to achieve that renowned feeling of balance.
And remember, if you’re feeling stretched to the limit, overworked, out of sync, or perhaps feeling like it’s just time to make a change in your career, our team at Horizontal Integration is there to help. Sometimes a change is all you need to regain balance. We understand that a happy person equals a more productive employee.