Is Work-Life Balance Achievable?

I Don't Know How She Does It?, starring Sarah Jessica Parker was released on September 2011.  I went to see this movie with a group of female friends from different professional backgrounds, all with kids of various ages and different caring commitments.  The debate over coffee following the movie was the highlight of the night out. Is Work-Life Balance Achievable? Can we really have it all?  According to the film critics, Sarah Jessica Parker can’t have it all.  I will leave this up to you all to decide.  As a HR Professional it made me think about Work Life Balance.

Is Work-Life Balance Achievable?

According to the website, a good working definition of work-life balance is: Meaningful daily achievement and enjoyment in each of the four life quadrants: Work, Family, Friends and Self. 

For many employees today—both male and female—their lives are becoming more consumed with a host of family and other personal responsibilities and interests.  But lets begin with you.  When was the last time you achieved and enjoyed something at work?  What about achieved and enjoyed with your family; your friends? And how recently have you achieved and enjoyed something just for you?  What do your employees learn from watching you?

According to an article in the Guardian, by Peter Crush, entitled ‘What happened to our work-life-balance?’ it was reported that Britons continue to work the longest hours in Europe.  More than 4 million full-time employees work more than 48 hours a week (700,000 more than did during the 1990s), while one in six regularly clocks up more than 60 hours a week.

Average Working Week

According to the TUC, the UK working week has now crept up to 43.5 hours – three hours longer than the European average.  Apparently, 26% of HR professionals work an average of more than 50 hours a week and the traditional summer holiday is coming under threat because of employee fears regarding their work and the economic situation

However, employers can offer a range of different initiatives, such as flexi time, annualised hours, staggered hours, job sharing, working from home, term time hours, compressed hours, part-time work, leave provisions, career breaks, strict maximum hours and employee support services.  However, organisations can also demonstrate commitment to work life balance by sensitive in-house practices.

For example, meetings and training within core business hours, management training in work-life policies, family events and promoting a culture that reflects family and personal life responsibilities.

More Flexible Options?

Work life balance initiatives and policies can have considerable benefits, including reduced turnover, increased morale and motivation and increased productivity.  What is your organisation doing?  Could more flexible options work for you and bring business benefits?

Erma Bombeck in the poem ‘If I Had My Life to Live Over’ summed it up when she said , ‘……given another shot at life, I would seize every minute, look at it and really see it , live it and never give it back.’  So don’t lose your balance and use your HR professionalism to help others in the workplace gain theirs.

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