Writer for Employee Benefits News, Kathleen Koster recently reached out to me to discuss the challenges faced by hourly workers when it comes to work life balance. In her article, Nixing 9 to 5 – Flexible work strategies for employers with a nonexempt workforce, she addresses the issues, “it can be difficult to remember that not every employee has the option to work at home when her child is sick, or flex his hours to go to a mid-day doctor’s appointment.” Read more about the other side of work-life balance – the side where there is even less control than in the corporate world.
According to the abstract on a new book by leading social psychologist and scientist Roy F. Baumeister’s latest research, he reveals that the average person spends four hours of their day battling temptation. “While self-control is biologically rooted, we have the capacity to manipulate our nature. Willpower works like a muscle that can be strengthened with practice, and fatigued with overuse.” Sounds like a book worth reading for those of us with loud little gremlins in our head.
Srikumar Rao is known as “happiness guru” of the business world – it might be because he has a book called, Happiness at Work and has taught at the Columbia Business School and the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley on the subject. Or it might because the man has some really interesting ideas about personal accountability, or what he calls “mental models” and finding joy and meaning at work. In this podcast he talks about how we make the world we live in and how we have the power to change it at any given moment by checking the validity of the mental models we create. Check out the book or podcast if you’re searching for more happiness at work.
One way that you can reduce the level of stress in your life is through gratitude. Many times in workshops I hear people focus on what is not working and what they do not have, the emphasis is on what is lacking. What would happen in your life if you took one week to and changed your focus to being grateful for all that you do have? What if for one week you could see all things that are working well and what if you wanted what you already have manifested in your life? What would it be like to feel, even if just for a week, that nothing is missing from your life? Owner and creator of the I’m Thankful Network, Sue Lundquist, has made it her life mission to help people focus on being thankful for what they already have through her radio network. If the idea of practicing gratitude for one week is too much, start with an hour of radio and tune into one of Sue’s shows.
What is triangulation you ask and how can it lead to better balance at work? Best to let my friend, colleague and leadership coach Tom Patterson answer in this column he penned for the Microsoft Office Blog. I will give you a hint: triangulation is NOT good for building balanced relationships!
A past workshop attendee sent me a blurb from Bill Phillips, Editor of Men’s Health post on Yahoo Health this week. I was shocked to read it – in a 13 year study that looked at lifestyles of 17,000 people at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana, it was discovered that people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks. The study he referred to was published last year in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise which is the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Apparently this is not the first or only study to reveal similar results. Bill summed the information up best, “In other words, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise or how well you eat. If you sit most of the day, your risk of leaving this world clutching your chest—whether you’re a man or women—as much as doubles.” My suggestion to you right now – get up and walk around a bit!!
I believe that work life balance is a gender neutral issue. Both men and women face challenges in creating harmony in their life, though it may show up in different ways, and men and women use different words to describe their struggles, the themes are largely the same. There is one exception, and that is with women who are senior in their roles. What I see taking shape is an either/or conversation about continuing at a senior level or dedicating time to raising a family. It is a conversation, which I have yet to whiteness in male workshop participant.
The Wall Street Journal sees this too and last week convened around 200 leaders in business, academia and government to discuss why there are so few leaders and devise some actions that companies (and government) can take to better support advancement of women in the workplace. Some key takeaways include:
- Strong talent management programs
- Development of more mentorship and sponsorship opportunities
- Promotion based on potential
- Development of strong P&L expertise
- CEO accountability for women development programs
Read the full report for interviews, videos, data and more suggested actions.