The Work Life Balance and Other Quests

As part of my New Year’s Resolutions this year (behind “drink less wine” and ahead of “buy some clothes which are not black”)  I’m reading up on everything I can find on the subject of happiness at work – and the lack of it.  Looking at companies , their behaviour, and the behaviour of all the individuals within those companies. Why? Because after 15+ years of listening to candidates and clients tell me the same story about why things go right in the workplace and why things go wrong I wondered why in the world of work we seem to keep repeating the same mistakes. (Of course we do that outside of work too – but I’m a Recruitment Consultant not a Counselor, so that’s a different Blog and not one I’m qualified to write).

Take the elusive “work-life balance” for example.  After years discussing this with friends, family members, candidates and clients,   and of interviewing candidates who had left jobs or were hoping to leave jobs  because of the levels of stress and the long hours, I’d come to the conclusion that the only way to get a balance between Work and Life was to work less.  Not the most practical immediate solution to be honest – although one to try at the review meeting perhaps?  “Q1 I’m targeting myself at improving my work life balance. So I won’t be in til Q2” Kids, don’t try this at work.

So if cutting back on hours isn’t the solution what is?  Working practices and organisational structures continue to evolve in response to technological innovation.   Technology is an enabler in so many ways; flexibility of working from home, speed and convenience, collective ways of working etc but at the same time our new 24 hour day availability is making it harder than ever to create a balance between time we devote  to work and time we devote to other things which are of fundamental importance to us – family, friends, interests, sport, play, exercise, entertainment, maintaining health,  SLEEP.

People’s expectations of what they expect to experience from the time they  spend “at work” in exchange for our input is also evolving.  What Organisation Behaviour professionals call “The Psychological Contract” between a company and a company member has changed over recent years with many people putting more emphasis on enjoyment and creative satisfaction in their work rather than measuring  the value of their jobs purely by titles/status and financial compensation. (I don’t recruit for the financial industry btw…..)

In response to these new expectations there are a variety of new companies and consultancies offering  techniques and training aimed at addressing the issues of work,  stress , wellbeing and health at work  and our enjoyment of life AND work.  Questions are being asked about the way we perceive work, the way companies perceive employees, and about the way organisations are structured  and about how they BEHAVE – to their customers and their employees and to the environment.

So in this Blog for the next few posts I will be blogging about what people from various professional walks of life are saying about some of these issues and sharing some of the viewpoints and research which I have found interesting.

To give you a taster here is a quote from and link to a 2012 Article in the New York Times called “Silicon Valley Says Step Away From the Device”

“We’re done with this honeymoon phase and now we’re in this phase that says, ‘Wow, what have we done?’ ” said Soren Gordhamer, who organizes Wisdom 2.0, an annual conference he started in 2010 about the pursuit of balance in the digital age. “It doesn’t mean what we’ve done is bad. There’s no blame. But there is a turning of the page.”

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference in February, founders from Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Zynga and PayPal, and executives and managers from companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco and others listened to or participated in conversations with experts in yoga and mindfulness. In at least one session, they debated whether technology firms had a responsibility to consider their collective power to lure consumers to games or activities that waste time or distract them.”

And where Silicon Valley leads, Silicone Roundabout follows?

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