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One of the most desired, but indescribable, terms in our workplace vocabulary is work life balance. Some people might call it work life integration. Regardless of what you call it, the concept is important. To me, work life balance is the concept of having both a personal and a professional life that I have control over. I don’t know that it means an equal 50/50 split of time. But it means I can have both.
The second part of the definition is equally important – control. This doesn’t mean that we never stay late or work on a weekend. Maybe that’s exactly what we want to do in order to get that project done in peace and quiet. Again, it’s about having control. If I work on Saturday to clear a few projects off my desk, then I can go see Deadpool 2 on Thursday afternoon.
If you share this definition of work life balance, then you also realize that it’s not a Millennial thing. Or a Gen X thing. Or a Boomer thing. Every employee wants it. Because every employee wants control over their personal and professional lives. Granted, the reasons might be different, but I’m not sure the reasons matter. Because whatever those reasons are . . . they’re personally important to the employee.
I’ll never forget the time that one of my former bosses told me I needed to come into work instead of taking care of my sick husband. Because in her words, “Sick husbands aren’t important.” No employee should be placed in that position. But work life balance doesn’t just extend to taking care of sick family members. It also has to do with career development.
Having work life balance can mean being able to attend conferences, classes, or obtain a certification that will improve our knowledge and skills. Going to school to earn a degree might help us get that promotion or transfer we’ve been pursuing. And spending time on learning and education doesn’t have an age limit.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the streets of Boston, MA after facilitating a SHRM seminar.14