I keep hearing a cry for “work-life balance”. Now I think that is a bizarre term so I started asking people what they meant by “work-life balance.” Here is one of the responses I got.
“I want to spend more time with my family”.
My question: “Are your kids in school, does your spouse work”
“Sure, kids have to go to school, we both work to be able to afford the house , the boat, take vacations, pay for after school activities for the kids like little league, art lessons, karate lessons, piano lessons and summer camps.” “We do volunteer work at the hospital, show dogs , hunt , ski, run marathons, visit friends, go out to dinner with our parents, have holiday parties, work with the PTA and of course are active in our church.
Me: Let me understand here, sounds like you and your family have a pretty busy schedule, with all those lessons and activities I bet your kids don’t get home until just in time for dinner. Weekends must be pretty full too, right? Sounds like everybody is going lots of different directions. Not a lot of time to spend together with all that stuff. Ever travel for business or job related requirements?
“Oh, no my job doesn’t require travel I wouldn’t take a job that required much travel.”
Me: Do you work overtime or on the weekends?
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t take a job that required overtime or weekend work, we have too many things that we do as a family to get into a situation like that.” “I play golf, wife plays tennis at the club, kids are all over the place.
Me: How many hours a week do you work?
Me: Know how many hours there are in a week”
Me: 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, that’s 168 hours in a week, ok. If you work 40 hours that leaves 128, ok. If you sleep 8 hours a day that’s 56 hours a week so that leaves 72 hours that you are not working and not asleep right? So that means that you are asleep more hours than you work and you have almost twice as many hours with your family as you work, right? So tell me what needs to happen to give you more work-life balance?
“Friday’s off would be great”.
Me: Sounds good, then you would work 36 hours have 80 hours that you were not asleep to spend with your family, right? Do you know what the word balance means?
“That means things are equal.”
Me: That’s what I always thought too. If you work fewer hours than you sleep and you have almost twice as much time with your family as you work, is that equal?
“Of course not, but that’s not what I mean.” “I mean I would like to be able to take longer weekends with my family or spend more time with hobbies and activities”.
Me: Ok, I get it, more focus on the things you like to do. That makes sense. Would you take a pay cut in order to have a four day work week?
“Of course not, then I couldn’t afford to do what I want to do. Besides that I really need a raise this year , we have a lot of things going on with the kids and we sort of overextended ourselves with credit cards and the size house we bought.”
Me: I sure understand that but let me get this straight. You want to work fewer hours than you sleep, work less than half the time you spend with your family and you want a raise this year for doing that. Is that what you mean by work-life balance?
“That’s it.”. .
Me: I am going to have to go back and take a look at the definition of the word balance and equal again. I am having a real hard time with this work-life balance concept stuff.
Sounds like to me there is something sort of out of balance here but I think work may be getting the short end of the stick. Uh , by the way , a couple of thoughts here.
1. Don’t ever consider a career as a third party recruiter.
2. A lot of people have discovered in the last few years that without work there is not much to life and nothing to balance the bills. That might be the new work/life balance. Maybe that is my new definition of work-life balance. Enough work to balance the bills and sustain life.
So tell me my friends, what is “Work-Life Balance? What is it that you want and what are you willing to give up to get it?
Me, I’m going back to work I like the balance in that checkbook to have lots of zeros after it and all of them black. I’ll sleep when I’m dead and somebody has to pay for all this “life” that is going on around me..
No siesta! Well rat fuzzes. There goes another another urban myth.
Work life balance seems to be as individual as the individual. Some people work to live and some live to work. Some people are super productive in intense bursts of shorter duration like race horses, others are more productive with longer time consuming projects where hours go unnoticed. Some are early morning doers, others produce like nocturnal creatures who hunt when the sun goes down. It would be interesting if business had the luxury to capitalize on the optimum productive mode of each individual but the resulting chaos for larger organizations would be obvious. The question still remains , What do you want and what are you willing to give up to have it?
@Torquil ... I will switch my Toronto Canada business Life and live in Spain in a Second....
I think that you would find that the differences are minimal. If you want to succeed you have to work hard, where ever you live!
(Although living on the Mediterrean, at the foot of the Pyrenees has its perks!!)
@Brenda No kidding, i can't remember the last time i slept eight hours except the night i had back surgery .
Paul has just become a wanna be expat. The only Pyrenees i know anything about is a very large white dog of 150 pounds by the name of Cosmo Kramer. He leaves a lot of perks in places.
I look at as LIFE/work balance. The best part about being in the recruiting profession is the control over what you do, when you do it and where you do it from. This control is what has third party recruiters feel that they have great "balance". I love the recruiters that say they never make a call after five or on a weekend. How do they do that? Thanks for sharing these thoughts. :)
@Gordon, hibernation doesn't sound too bad at times. Wonder if i could lose 10 punds and wake up and still have a business. Probably not, never mind.
@Charlotte, great comment and insight. I can not imagine not making a call after 5:00 or no calls on the weekend. They must place the noon fill in receptionist who doesn't have a home or cell phone. Thank you for the read and the comment.