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Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace
HOW TO IMPROVE WORK LIFE BALANCE

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.

Part 1 - THE PROBLEM:

The short term, numbers orientation of today's work world translates into long work hours and stressful working environments. Employees, especially senior managers, simply do not have the time they want for their families, hobbies, or just relaxing. But there are solutions.

Part 2 - ANALYSIS

  1. The Dilemma for Employees. Solutions such as working fewer hours or taking a less demanding job usually require major sacrifices such as less money, less meaningful work, and limited advancement opportunities

  2. The Dilemma for Employers. Providing employees with more time off and a slower work pace can adversely affect the bottom-line. Venture capitalists, stockholders, and customers have little patience for the reduced speed and quality that may result from a more relaxed work environment.

Part 3 - THE SOLUTIONS

  1. What Employees Can Do
    • Work smarter, not harder. Much of the stress and long work hours employees experience is due to their own inefficiency. Employees must continually focus on streamlining and improving how they conduct their work.

    • Reassess the sacrifices you are currently making. Recognize that you do have choices. For example, many employees, especially those recently entering the job market, have made the conscious decision that they will not sacrifice their personal life for their work. They have accepted jobs that provide them with the working environment and schedule that better suits their life priorities.

    • Force yourself to better organize your time and energy outside of work. Apply the same rigor and discipline outside of work as you do at work. Set goals and priorities, plan ahead, and develop schedules so that you can maximize the meaning and enjoyment you attain from your personal life.

  2. What Employers Can Do
    • Provide flexibility. Create a work environment that provides employees with the day-to-day flexibility they need to manage the rest of their lives. Those that typically work long hours and weekends should be given the freedom to come in late, leave early, or take time off during the middle of the day whenever they deem necessary.

    • Become known as an organization where balance is valued. In the past year, I have worked with several organizations that have made it known to employees and prospective employees that work life balance is a key organizational value. They provide excellent benefits and work flexibility. At 5:00 PM employees are free to leave and, are in fact, encouraged to leave work. These organizations pay at the market rather than above the market. But, their employees are highly committed and are willing to make sacrifices in their paychecks for a better life style.

    • Reduce organizational inefficiencies. Much of the reason employees must work long hours is organizational inefficiency. Our research shows that over half of employees feel the work in their departments is conducted inefficiently.

    • Provide senior management role models. Employees often take their cues from the senior-most members of the organization. If they are workaholics, the rest of the organization will become workaholic. If they work hard to achieve balance in their lives, the rest of the organization will do so as well.

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