What is work-life balance?

by Global Expert Systems

The latest buzz

Ever so often a new catch phrase emerges and very quickly finds its way into management jargon. Do you remember the clarion call to “think outside the box,” or the 1990s craze when everyone was caught up in “downsizing’ and ‘re-engineering’?

Well, there’s a new kid on the block, especially in the human resource management circles. It’s the quest for that elusive “work-life balance”. You would be amazed at the tons of statistical studies out there on this so called work-life balance. Our position is very clear on this misnomer — life must simply be balanced at work.

The idea that there is work and then there is some other life outside of that is just plain ludicrous. Just calculate the amount of time in life spent preparing to get into the work force and then the time and energy dedicated to work and one will quickly come to grips with our stance — so let’s simply balance life at work!

Has anyone taken the time out to measure how many persons actually enjoy their work or those who supposedly have a miserable life outside of work? The dichotomy is therefore simply a false one.

Let talent management help to balance life at work

There’s no getting around it! Part of the human condition is to be engaged, employed or simply be active. Whether or not we are doing volunteer work, we are here to be engaged. So let’s work like we don’t need the job. This is by no means undermining or understating all of the gains we have made in human rights over the last century.

For it would be worth our while to underscore some of the fundamental principles espoused by the International Labour Organisation which guide and govern the conventions that all Caribbean nations have ratified and duly subscribe to:

(a) Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

(b) The elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;

(c) The effective abolition of child labour; and

(d) The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Once we have covered all the human rights we now have the job of helping our workers enjoy their lives at work and this is where the Talent Management cycle comes into play again. Remember the first article in this series that spelt out the talent management model of plan, acquire, deploy, evaluate and plan again.

By hiring right in the first place, companies will avoid so much of the mutual frustration shared by them and the employee. However, in spite of all that, the key to making work more enjoyable is really simple. Management, please listen to your employees! Please!

How to listen to employees?

1. Remember that actions speak louder than words:

a. Measure absenteeism

b. Measure turnover

c. Listen to that deafening silence when you walk in the room

d. Measure output and productivity

e. Observe employee engagement

f. Be aware of when ‘work-to-rule’ creeps in the organisation;

2. GES recommends 360 degree assessments that involve supervisors, peers, external and internal clients and the employee;

3. Let technology help you. There is software to assist with employee performance evaluations and assessments;

4. Transparency in employee performance evaluation is very important;

5. Involve employees at all levels in the decision-making process. You may be surprised at the solutions you will hear;

6. Acknowledge employees and really show appreciation – sometimes a simple thank you in an email can go a very long way.

Overcoming fear of the boss (“bossophobia”)

1. Bosses are humans with real feelings and they don’t bite. So start by accepting that you are really dealing with an equal human being.

2. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with this human being like you would have with any other. Make sure you are always respectful, truthful and sincere in the process.

3. Speak truth from the heart. When we put systems and procedures aside and touch the human heart we are likely to have better engagement.

4. Acknowledge your boss too. Just like employees feel their bosses don’t listen to them, the vast majority of bosses will flip the script and tell you that they don’t feel appreciated by their staff. There’s nothing wrong with telling your boss that you appreciate him or her. Simply say thank you!

5. Do not let the situation escalate to a boiling point. If your boss is really that hard-nosed, then you need to go through the established procedures to voice your concerns but don’t bottle it up.

In essence, we strongly believe that work is an integral part of life and the key to making that environment healthy is to really to listen, not just to words but to actions!

Next week we will examine, “Performance Evaluation in Talent Management Cycle”.

Don’t miss First Caribbean & Latin American Conference on Talent Management on September 25 at the Savannah Hotel, Barbados and September 26 at the Kapok Hotel, Trinidad.

Feel free to visit Global Expert Systems online at http://www.globalexpertsystems.org/index.php/event/first-caribbean-latin-american-conference-on-talent-management/ or email us at info@globalexpertsystems.org for more information.

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