Solving the Work-Life Balance Dilemma

Juggling the demands of a busy career and a personal life is a challenge most of us face at some time in our lives.  But the concept of “work-life balance” can mean different things to different people, and can even mean different things to an individual at different stages of life.

People typically approach the work-life balance dilemma by using various strategies such as:

*Prioritizing activities and commitments.

*Banning technology from vacations, family time, dinner time, etc.

*Taking advantage of “perks” their employer might offer, such as flex time, job sharing, or telecommuting.

The problem with these solutions is that employees who take advantage of them and try to attain their preferred work-life balance are often thought of by coworkers and even supervisors, as being less productive or less committed to their jobs and careers.

Leslie Perlow, author of “Sleeping With Your Smartphone,” believes that while these approaches may help employees in the short run, they do nothing to “…challenge the cultural values of what constitutes ‘doing good work.’”  Employees find themselves less valued for participating in the very programs that their companies are advocating.

She believes that the key lies in changing workplace culture so that more personal time is possible, without the stigma that those who take it are less productive.

HR POINTER: The key word here is “productive.”

Providing flexible work arrangements for employees is something many companies have come to embrace.

Unfortunately, supervisors are not trained to manage the performance expectations of employees who utilize these alternate work arrangements.

Many supervisors are still stuck in the “seat time” mentality that values long hours at work vs. amount of productivity.

With “seat time” thinking, the perception is that people who don’t show up early or don’t stay late are giving less than 100%.  The result is that these people are often unconsciously penalized by supervisors relative to salary increases, promotions, etc.

Part of our solution to this perception is the creation of Standards-Based Job Descriptions which identify the expected level of performance for each responsibility.

Without such specificity in the job description, employees are left to guessing at what a supervisor expects and then having their best efforts trashed at a performance evaluation that looks more like an ambush than a review designed to improve performance.

For information on our Standards-Based Job Descriptions, see the link below.

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