Our country is obsessed with the concept of work/life balance. Type those three words into a Google search and you will come up with more than 231 million results. 231 million! Everyone is talking/writing about this topic: TIME magazine, The Atlantic, talk show hosts, authors and adults in coffee shops.
I'm writing this post for one reason: to stop the conversation.
We need to stop talking about this because it makes us all feel bad about ourselves. Each one of us can think of at least five other people in our own circles that seem to embody whatever work/life balance is. My recommendation: stop comparing yourself to them. Instead, use that energy to figure out what makes you happy in your life--work and otherwise--then, go do it.
The key to happiness
The key to happiness is the act of silencing the outside voices that tell you what your life should look like. Take the following quiz and let me know what you think.
• How often do you think about work/life balance?
• What spurs you on to thinking about the topic?
• What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you wish you did more of/less of?
• What do you wish you had time for that you don't right now?
Consider your answers for a minute and tell me honestly if you think about work/life balance because it springs into your head from your own thoughts or as the manifestation of someone else's/the media's ideas, views and expectations.
I ask because I get this all the time. There are nights when I work until midnight. There are mornings when I get up at 4 a.m. But I don't mind. Really. I'm doing what I love and I don't see it as work. I am happy to check my smart phone while on vacation, multiple times in a day. But, undoubtedly several times per week, I get the question, "Yaniv, what about your work/life balance? Don't you feel like your life is out of balance?" Nope. I can't say it is perfect, but I can confidently say that I am happy.
But that's just me. Many of you may not feel the same way. Maybe you need to shut off at 5 p.m. to stay sane. Maybe you need to take a lengthy lunch break and then work late into the evening. All fine, as long as you are happy. Regardless, I have a suggestion for other small business owners out there.
Loop HR into the conversation
Many entrepreneurs may feel the same way as me; many of their employees may not. Bridging this gap is important for overall job satisfaction in an office environment. How can you achieve such a bridge? Start by scheduling a sit-down with your human resources employees.
Focus the meeting around how to accommodate your employees' variety of needs. While your CFO may need to pick up his kids from daycare at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays, your director of sales may need to relax during a 90-minute yoga session on Wednesdays over lunch. As long as yours is a knowledge-based business (i.e. your employees could work anytime as long as they meet deadlines), this could work.
Instruct your HR team to sit down with individual employees to see what schedule works best for maintaining their happiness. Then, give it a try. Even if it doesn't work, at least your employees will appreciate you having tried.
And soon they will be talking more about how happy they are rather than the perceived balance or imbalance in their lives.