Most of us simply think of it as the time we don’t spend in the office versus the time we do. The more biased it is to one side of the ledger, the better or worse. But that is just a small element of what work life balance really is. (I can’t be bothered typing ‘work life balance’ anymore so will shorten it to WLB…because what the recruitment industry desperately needs is another three letter acronym !).
To me, WLB is much much more than simply the hours you work and where you work them. It is more than the number of day’s holidays you get a year. It is more than starting late so you can drop the kids off at school, finishing early on a Friday or being allowed to work from home one day a week. In fact it is not really about any of that stuff.
Of course these things are important and contribute to WLB. But none of them alone will give you a positive WLB…… not if you cannot stand the work you do, or you have a horrible boss, or you are so busy that you have to work every evening, or so stressed that you spend your day a nervous wreck (even if you are in your pyjamas working from your sofa) etc. If you are dealing with these type of things then it doesn’t matter about any of the other nice stuff…..your job is still going to have a negative effect on your life.
Without trying to be too funky hippy hipster about it , think of WLB in a more holistic and emotional way. It is about where your job fits in with your whole life, how you feel when you get up in the morning, how you sleep at night, whether it makes you challenged and rewarded, what opportunities it presents you, whether you feel good about yourself and whether you spend most of your day smiling or being stressed!
The WLB topic is usually part of any discussion I will have with a candidate or a client looking for staff. Employers are becoming more flexible with things like working hours and people are increasingly looking for employers who can offer them the Silicon Valley style employment. That’s all well and good. But don’t automatically think that being allowed to work from home one day a week will give you a better life, or a happier and more productive staff. It won’t if the rest of it isn’t also in balance….
And a final word on the subject…from someone who puts it much better than me….
A recruiter (a very good one I should add) that I met recently was telling me a story of being continually told off by his boss for ‘having too much fun at work’. “What the hell are you doing laughing and joking.This is my business” …to which the recruiter responded “Well, this is my life”.