Author, Speaker, Addiction & Relinquishment Consultant, Relinquishee, Adoptee, MPE

Does Top Management Understand Work-Life Balance?

As individuals it is important that we engage in the work-life discussion.  It’s important that we take the discussion from the Human Resources department to the Board room because for the company work-life balance looks different than it does for the employee.

I’ve made several posts to this blog opining about the work-life discussion as it relates to corporations and employees. The way the debate is being shaped today, there are two conflicting formulas at work here:

For the company, Work-Life Balance boils down to this: Company = Good, Family = Bad For the employee, it looks like this: Family and Personal Time = Good, Company = Bad.Of course, life isn’t this simple, but that’s how the conversation is being framed.

This rudimentary correlation is confirmed in the New York Times article Measuring the Gender Gap. In answer to the question “Why hasn’t the concept of work/life balance taken hold?”, the Times answers:

“The two biggest reasons are well known. There is continuing pressure for increased corporate performance, which makes it difficult to take time away from the office, and technology like cellphones, laptops and BlackBerries make it easy to be in touch with the office at all times.”

Gary Stern, a writer for The Conference Board Review, adds a third reason: Out-of-touch chief executives.

“The heads of most major companies have stay-at-home spouses and the money to pay for full-time child care. And by definition, being in charge means you don’t have to deal with a demanding boss at work.”

Opines Kathie Lingle of the Alliance of Work-Life Progress: “The lives of the worker bees are 180 degrees different from the top executives.”

As I mentioned in my post Do Corporations Really Support Work-Life Balance?, there is no doubt that corporations talk a good game when it comes to offering employees an environment that fosters a balance between their work lives and their private lives. The jury is still out as to whether they are carrying through on their promises by creating an attitude and culture that supports those policies.

Gary M. Stern explains why:

“Not too long ago, there seemed to a real effort to give overworked executives some breathing room, carving out space for family and personal responsibilities. But as with so many corporate initiatives and mission statements, the talk rarely materializes into action.”

How do we get those at the top to walk-the-walk instead of simply talking-the-talk?

We, as individuals, must fully engage in the work-life discussion. We must make it clear that work and life are not mutually exclusive – that work is an integral part of our lives, not the enemy.

We must take the discussion from the Human Resources department to the Board room.

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