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September 17, 2014

What Companies can do to Encourage a Work/Life Balance

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It’s 8:45 on an August morning, and all four of my kids are dressed and have eaten breakfast. Fifteen minutes remain before the babysitter arrives to take them to the park while I sneak off to a friend’s house for my first 3 hour block of work.

When I return home, the rest of the afternoon will be packed with more cuddling, play and lunch. Somewhere in between, I will try to squeeze in an hour of work while my youngest child naps. After that, I probably won’t be able to get any more work time until after the kids have been tucked in.

One may think that working from home is the opposite of finding that ever-sought after work/life balance. Your home life can easily become overwhelmed by work, and vice versa. The secret is being disciplined enough to separate the two. Once that separation is made, the beauty of working from home can be realized and work/life balance becomes a possibility.

When it comes to allowing employees the ability to work around other responsibilities, many companies talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? Do their employees feel confident enough to openly state, “I have to leave early, my toddler has a pre-school event”? Most companies try to boast about flex time and allowing for quality family time but in reality, when it comes down to it, most don’t want your personal issues or life situation to interfere with their bottom line. A company with a traditional outlook wants to know that you are working as much as possible and that they are getting the most out of you.

Contrary to popular belief, only so much can be done by the employee in finding a balance- the rest is up to the employer’s desire to accommodate them. This is only achieved once a company accepts the employee as a “complete” person. That means hiring someone knowing full well that they have four young children at home, for example, and trusting that the individual can and will do their best to contribute at a high level without being micromanaged.

From personal experience, I know that this level of trust endows a worker with the motivation to reciprocate with a performance that goes above and beyond. I have learned that a worker’s productivity is correlated with the amount of faith placed in the individual. It’s only when a worker feels hawked that she begins to subconsciously want to do the minimum. In most situations, motivation to contribute is intensified when an employee is given the freedom to create their own space.

How wonderful it is to work in such an environment and during a time when this perspective has been adopted by more and more companies!

-Roni G.
QA Director