An increasing number of organizations are rethinking the concept of work/life balance. During the US economic recession of 2007-2009, companies found new ways of doing more with less. The advancement of technology meant that a number of jobs were abolished during that time and are never coming back. Technology advancements also furthered the concept that an employee is never really off the clock. The American Psychological Association reported that more people are working on weekends, during vacations and even while they are out sick. Researchers are reporting that the line between work and home has effectively been blurred and workers are reporting more cases of burnout due to chronic job stress.
Workers are beginning to ask themselves a key question: Am I working to live or am I living to work. Gallup did a survey and found that 70% of U.S. workers are not actively engaged at work. Employees are constantly being asked to make a choice between family and work and are increasingly saying that they want both. Many prospective employees are now considering non-monetary factors as well as the opinions of current employees prior to making a decision on employment. It is clear that many employers are listening. In 2014, Forbes Magazine reported that 78% of employers rate employee retention and engagement as urgent or important. Many are increasing the use of benefits such as alternate work schedules, personal services, parental leave, and even sabbaticals to attract and retain a quality workforce. Some leaders, however, are strategically reinventing the concept of work/life balance. One leader, in particular, had the courage and vision to make this a priority even before the term “employee engagement” ever existed. That person is Gary Keller, the founder of Keller Williams Realty International (KWRI).
I first learned of Gary Keller and Keller Williams by reading a few of his many books on real estate. His best seller books The Millionaire Real Estate Agent and The Millionaire Real Estate Investor are classic, how-to books on succeeding in real estate. He followed those books with the wildly successful business book The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results. I found the book to really be an extension of the company mission statement: To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, and lives worth living. After reading Gary’s books and learning more about KWRI, I found three lessons that enabled me to achieve true work/life balance.
A Life By Design
KWRI was founded in 1983 by Gary Keller and Joe Williams. From the start, Gary made it a point to design the company around the needs of its agents, not the other way around. With this in mind, Keller Williams asks each new agent or employee to think about the life that they would like to lead and then to design a business around that. The goal is to have people think about and have success in all phases of their lives, not just one part. KWRI calls it having a life by design.
A Career Worth Having
KWRI is a market leader that only wants to succeed based on its core set of beliefs. These beliefs guide how it conducts business as well as how it treats its workforce. KWRI relies on these beliefs to create the systems, products, and services that lead to productivity and profitability. To accomplish this, KWRI believes in putting its workforce first because it can only achieve success through its people.
Success On Your Terms
Most people think of KWRI as a Real Estate Brokerage. What isn’t as widely known is that Keller Williams is also the number one training organization in the world according to Training Magazine. In his book The ONE Thing, Gary asks an essential question: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? KW’s training component, KW MAPS Coaching, is designed to help its workforce answer that question and then to offer tools to maximize their probability of success. The main goal of KW MAPS coaching is to offer “programs for real estate professionals and business leaders to transform their businesses and lives through education and coaching.” It offers many different programs for agents and employees to define, develop and refine success on their own terms.
KWRI thinks of itself as a training and consulting organization and encourages its workforce to reinvent the meaning of the concept of work/life balance based on individual and business needs. The traditional 9-5 workday is long gone and companies such as Keller Williams are creating unique career paths to accommodate the individual needs of its workforce. As a result, people can now find unique ways to fit work into their life.
Full Disclosure: The author is a Licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas.