Years ago I interviewed for a job where the HR Director told me point blank, “this job will be your life. I have family too, but this job comes first.” Thankfully, I didn’t get the job. Another colleague did, and less than a year later she was hospitalized for anxiety as a result of the stress associated with the position.
Fast forward 15 years, and not much has changed. When a class conflicted with a weekend office event and I chose the class (after giving management ample notice), my manager asked me if I was telling her that my life outside of work was more important than my job. Her question shocked me, and knowing that my answer was a resounding “YES”, fueled my determination to leave that environment as quickly as possible.
But it finally seems that some employers at least, are attempting to make room for life and work. In a recent NPR interview, Katie Sleep discussed why her company, List Innovative Solutions, lets employees telecommute and set their own hours. As a mom herself, accustomed to long commutes and managing the nightmare of transporting kids to and from school and daycare, Sleep was determined to offer better options for her own employees. Not only does she have an unheard of 95% retention rate, she finds that employees still get their work done.
The problem with 9-5, is that it’s based on an outdated model of work. Back in the day, the workforce was largely male, and women stayed at home. In 2010, most households are dual income, and women are increasingly becoming the breadwinners. Sadly today, most companies, particularly those run by bad bosses, don’t trust their employees to work independently and out of sight. Allowing for flexibility and freedom in the workday is almost seen as a sign of weakness. As a result, both productivity, and employee moral suffer.
Not every type of job is conducive to flex time and telecommuting, but many are, and unless companies begin doing a better job of helping their employees balance work and life, we’ll continue to see a U.S. workforce at odds with itself. You can listen to the entire NPR story here.
What are your thoughts on employers’ resistance to helping employees maintain a work-life balance? How does your employee handle the issue? Share your thoughts in the comment section or on our Facebook fan page.