Posted on: Jun 15, 2014
Work life balance is the effort to separate pressure from work from interfering with personal lives of individual employees. The ultimate goal of a work life balance is to avoid a burn-out due to excessive work. Work and personal life need not be exclusive, they can be integrative. In fact they can complement one another. It is up to individual employee to interpret work in a positive way.
Work life balance is an individual matter:
According to Stephen Mabey, individual’s burnout is always a possibility despite numerous measures taken by law firms to ensure a proper work life balance. There is no omnipresent plan or one-size-fits-all plan to suit everyone. Difference in expectation(s) usually put employee’s personal life in a collision course with the firm.
The existence of the firm is largely demand/market driven while employee’s state of mind/private life is secondary. Employee’s expectation from the profession usually falls short of the reality. An employee may erroneously and innocently think he/she can do something to the justice system, burnout is a result when an employee realize the impossibility to change or achieve his personal goal. Mabey believes the extent of accommodation to an employee’s personal life rests on the firm’s financial interest. The firm should pass the buck on deciding the actual work life balance to employee after an open and candid discussion with them.
The danger of work life imbalance:
A lot have been said about the dire consequence of work life imbalance: prolonged sadness, family/social alienation and drug/alcohol abuse. Few discussions are devoted to actual split of work and life, partly due to the fact that it is an individual’s responsibility but the most important aspect is the failure to recognize the reality of the commercial society.
There are many professions that demand absolute devotion to their jobs. A commercial pilot is required to make split second decisions in life and death situation under fatigue and high stress environment. Physicians and medical practitioners work long hours and errors in judgement can mean serious body harm or death. When the spectrum of power is in favour of the firm (as in most cases), it is natural for the employee (weaker side) to put his personal life aside. The issue of work life (im)balance is immaterial. A firm’s interest is also an integral part of an individual’s interest in the form of performance package, bonus or higher paid.
Work life and personal life need not be exclusive:
Those who are in control and those who-are-busy-and-don’t-feel-rushed are ones who are able to transform the highly pressured and competitive work to their advantage. The key is to able to allocate the right amount of attention to issues that are important and urgent, unimportant and urgent, important and not urgent or unimportant and not urgent. Responding to emergency request for child(ren) visit from the opposing party from a custody order is an urgent and important matter that requires an associate to give immediate attention. Important and not urgent matter is setting of departmental goal for the monthly sales quota. Unimportant and urgent matters should be put in a number two spot from important and urgent matter. Responding to enquiries from prospective clients and friends will fit this category. Trivia tasks such as office administration duties should be the last on the priority list. The use of personal agenda will be the bedrock of staying organized. Time is a luxury item for many work place, we always have to make the most out of what is available to use. A careful management of time by agenda or Eienshower Matrix, will integrate personal life with work schedule.
When the issue of personal life is raised, it is generally referred to family commitments, educational development or personal financial being. Work and personal life can be both integrative when an individual focuses on selective thing(s) that brings him most utility. The key is for him/her to recognize the limit(s) and to specialize on things he is good at. If an individual cherish job satisfaction and respect from the firm as foremost, he will frame it as part of his personal life and therefore becoming an integrative solution. Pressure motivates. A lot of inventions are generated out of necessity. Connection of real-time communication channels over vast distance to what later became Internet is an invention under pressure. It is a direct response to the dire threat of Soviet advances in communication and outer-space technology initiated by the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
Although our norms do not emphasize collectivism, a summation of individuals’ interest will make a common good to the society. It is when everyone act in their own best interest that a common good will result. The process may not be desirable but the outcome withstands challenges posted by alternative forms of society over time.
On a separate note, please accept my homemade video on how I spend the extra eight hours offered by Clio: Leo’s clioday