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Work Life Balance by kayode olufemi-ayoola

Work Life Balance by kayode olufemi-ayoola

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published i Daily Independent Newspapers in 2008 -Nigeria
published i Daily Independent Newspapers in 2008 -Nigeria

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Published by: Kayode olufemi-ayoola on Aug 17, 2009
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05/11/2014

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 WORK LIFE BALANCE?
 Are you juggling competing demands and making tradeoffswith your time? Are you experiencing the push and pullbetween family responsibilities and work? Are you oftenpreoccupied with work while not working? Does your officego home with you? Do you find it difficult to give yourspouse/family the same attention you give your job? If you’ve answered, ‘yes’ to any of these questions then youmay have work life balance issues to contend with.According to a 2003 research quarterly of The Society forHuman Resources Management Professionals (SHRM), theterm “work life balance”, was first coined in 1986, althoughits usage in everyday language was sporadic for a number of years.It has been defined in some quarters as, “A state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person’s job andpersonal life are equal.” While this suggests that a state of equilibrium is achieved between the demands of a person’s job and his personal life, the reality is that people (andindeed organizations) have todeal with the concept and what it entails from (slightly)different angles, since an, “all -things-being –equal utopianstate”, may not give a complete picture (as balance, issomething we never fully perfect or completely attain).If you think of a tightrope walker - who is never balanced inthe sense of being still or stationary, yet is always balancing,gradually becoming better and more comfortable in hisbalance, you will obtain a clearer picture of what the work life balance concept is all about
 
 Thus, while the employee faces the dilemma of managingwork obligations and personal/ family responsibilities; theemployer may be challenged by the creation of a supportivecompany culture which enables employees focus on their jobs while at work without jeopardizing the time required tohandle personal/ family concerns.According to Jim Bird, a researcher on the subject;” work lifebalance does not mean an equal balance (i.e. trying toschedule an equal number of hours for each of ourprofessional and personal activities, it is more defined by“who you are!, your values and priorities” Your bestindividual work life balance will vary over time; often on adaily basis. The right balance for you today will probably bedifferent for you tomorrow. The right balance for you whenyou are single will be different when you get married, andeven more different when you start having children andtaking care of the elderly. Bird said it so well when he said,“there is no perfect, one-size fits all balance you should bestriving for”. Life is more or less a balancing act, with you inconstant search of a moving fulcrum.Executive Coach, David Zelman said, “Balance per se isn’t agoal. It is an afterthought, a way of describing an outcome.Seeking balance is futile because it’s an intangible and, so,impossible to measure. Better to set concrete objectives inareas important to you and plan concrete paths to each goal. Take your life for what it is – a rich and varied story definedby ever – changing circumstances and priorities (life is not just the passing of time but is a collection of experiences).Zelman advises considering life and career as a portfolio. Ineach chapter, we have different responsibilities andpriorities: children, home, travel, aging relatives. We all facea corresponding variety of roles and opportunities on the job:a big project, moving up the managerial hierarchy, a topleadership role etc. Balance then becomes a lifelong quest –balancing among chapters rather than within each chapter.
 
 Thus, there will be times when you have to devote 80% of your time to work, and other times when you must do thesame for your family. The tough part is recognizing whichchapter of your life demands the most attention per timeand recognizing them for what they are – temporaryepisodes, phases which make up a coherent and satisfyingwhole.Bringing it closer home, the last few years has seen anupward trend in the number of highly qualified men andwomen dropping out of mainstream careers due to work lifeimbalance. (This is particularly true of the Banking sector) afurther analysis shows the feminine gender to be moreaffected by the challenges of work-life balance.A 2005 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article by Sylvia AnnHewlett and Carolyn Buck Lee, state that nearly four in tenhighly qualified women (37%) report that they have left workvoluntarily at some point in their careers. Among womenwho have children, that statistic rises to 43%. This means that childbirth is still a major barrier to women’scareer progression.A 2007 HBR case commentary written by Rebecca Matthias(in response to a case study written by Sharman Esarey &Arno haslberger) stated that a smart, ambitious woman of child bearing age has three choices. Choice number one is toforgo motherhood, follow her dream, and attain a loftyposition; in so doing, she will always wonder what life wouldhave been like had she had children. Choice number two isto skip a career, become a mother, and always wonder whatshe might have attained in the business world. Choice

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