The concept of work – life balance

The concept of work – life balance from Goldfish Consulting

By: Goldfish Consulting  02-22-2016
Keywords: work - life balance, management, change, energy, burn-out

The concept of balance, in the context of work and life balance is commonly seen as an attempt by the individual to divide their time appropriately between work and family commitments. Role conflict is a result of the simultaneous demands placed on the individual by these two aspects of their lives. It is this concept of balance between home and family that people generally describe as being important to them. This topic has therefore been researched, legislation has been passed and best practices built into policies and procedures. It is only more recently that employees have begun to demand time for activities such as physical exercise. Research conducted in Canada revealed that work/life balance is the most important retention factor among 16-34 year olds, especially for women. 91% of men interviewed by Men’s Health claimed that a balanced life is a greater symbol of success than working 70 or more hours a week, even if it meant lower pay (DTI, 2004). Balance includes family, exercise or other personal pursuits – with work. Over half the respondents did not have children and still placed “work/life balance” at the top of their list of retention factors (Loverock & Ward, 2001). Keeping one’s work and relationships in balance results in more energy, a deeper character and a wider perspective of life. Research conducted in several dozen U.S companies of various sizes, in a variety of industries, where over 100 interviews were conducted and analyzed concluded that practices to balance work-life, actually adds value to the business…people live more satisfying personal lives…and illuminate better ways to get work done They however go on to report that such programs rarely help more than a few employees, because they do not permeate a company’s culture or fundamentally change managers’ behaviour. The definition of balance as given by Kevin Cashman (2000) is insightful: Balance Mastery is the dynamic centring of our life to build resilience and to enhance effectiveness and fulfilment. In other words, it is not a static, rigid process but rather an ongoing flexibility that allows us to move with ease and agility in any direction that we choose. It is not in the separation and control of the various aspects of our lives but in the management of the entire process, or in the integration of the various aspects of our lives. Mastery of Balance is about finding ways to connect with our centre so we can deal with all the dynamics outside. As we unfold more inner balance, we can do more with ease. The centre that Cashman refers to lies in the spiritual dimension, our sense of purpose and of meaning. When these become clear, then we are able to face the challenges of our remaining life dimensions. Conversely, when our lives are centred on family, work or any of the other dimensions, we begin to experience the consequences of spiritual dis-ease which research has shown results in physical illness. A work organization, should have the philosophy that all its employees are unique individuals with physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, social, creative and spiritual rights and needs. The worker, on the other hand, who is balanced, is in a position to see that work is but one of a number of important aspects of living. Relationships, family, spirituality and a healthy lifestyle are considered primary and are not jeopardised by work. In pursuit of greater market share, profits and even staying viable, companies have embarked on projects of re-engineering, restructuring and downsizing. These activities have cut “too close to the bone”. In a survey by the American Management Association (Fortune), more than half of participating large US companies said they had lost so many talented people that their ability to compete had been “severely damaged”. At the same time, we are experiencing a backlash of increasing stress associated with constant change and the tension of work/family life. To read more, go to: http://www.goldfish-consulting.co.za/blog/concept-work-%E2%80%93-life-balance

Keywords: work - life balance, management, change, energy, burn-out

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