Knowledge at Work: The balancing act

Work-Life balance enables a firm the best candidates for open positions

EVERY INDIVIDUAL is different and unique. Being a senior executive with heavy responsibilities, as well as a family man, I have been fascinated with work-life balance because it makes both logical and emotional sense. Having studied work-life balance at a personal level, I have concluded that an individual’s life can be divided into four basic quadrants – self, workplace, family and friends and community All of us face the ‘Why’ factor from the time we take our first breath. And as we grow, the ‘Why’ follows us like a shadow. The manner in which we tackle the question determines the manner in which we function. Why does one seek a higher salary? Why does one long for a better house? Why does one go to work? Why does one want to do well? Why? Why? Why? Two simple concepts determine the answer: the sense of achievement and the resultant joy.

The phrase work-life balance was coined in 1986 in the US and until 1999 remained on the fringes of corporate usage and public dissemination. Post 2000, work-life balance (WLB) has gone mainstream, with hundreds of dedicated Internet sites, including those of mega corporations, helping spread its usage. There has even been legislation enacted in many countries making work-life balance (WLB) crucial to the functioning of a corporation.

I worked hard at my studies and then at my workplace to fashion a career for myself. I got married and worked at making my family life happy Remember, if a person works too much, sacrificing quality family time, he might reach the top of the corporate ladder quickly, but the achievement and material gain will not commensurate the price he’s forced to pay in the long run. On the other hand, being in this competitive world, one has to prioritise one’s business or professional career to financially support one’s family, as well as maintain a steady growth curve.

While more and more employees are attempting to strike a balance between work and family, thanks to the information blitzkrieg on the subject, there are still myriad ways for technology to intrude on personal time.

E-mail, voicemail, mobile phones and laptops allow employees to take their work home. Many do this on a regular basis, which means they may be away from the office but are connected by the umbilical cord of technology to the server I do agree that sometimes one can’t help but take one’s work home. But one shouldn’t make it a habit.

There is no use blaming the organisation or globalisation or 24×7 operations. There is no point blaming the industry; someone else did the estimates and I’ve ended up doing 70 hours/week.

It is up to you to strike the balance. There are times when you must take a break. 11ike to surprise my family, take them on a short holiday. One must make the time. It demands logic and discipline. IT, BPO and other hi-tech corporates are constantly upgrading and re- framing their WLB policies because of the high em- ployee attri tion rates. Happier employees are more productive and more loyal. More productivity adds to a healthier bottom line. WLB enables a company to retain the best candidates for their open positions, increasing productivity even further In short, there everything to gain for both the employer and the employee. Remember of course, WLB does not mean an equal balance. It isn’t a constant either. It varies over time. There is no one-size-fits-all WLB and it definitely doesn’t mean it reduces the time spent at work! Here are nine tips to a better life, gleaned from personal expenence:

Reduce to bare bones: Learn to say ‘No’ if it affects your schedules. You don’t have to be busy all the time. Remember nobody is indispensable. Choose your best time to do the toughest work. Look for tools to improve productiv- ity Stay home once in a while. Don’t carry the frenetic madness of the workplace home – rushing from cinema to restaurant to club. Chill out. Don’t commit yourself to anything, especially avoidable social engagements while at home and don’t feel guilty I like to listen to music, to do little chores. It relaxes me. Sure, it’s easier said than done. A degree of stress enables creative people scale new heights. But one must manage stress so it can enrich and motivate, not result in high blood pressure.

De-stress: The best relief from the debilitating affects of stress is to ‘take it easy’ at times. Get your second breath and then tackle the problem. Learning yoga or doing a course in breathing at the Art of Living Foundation has helped many a stressedout individual. I take my cat out for a walk in the morning. It’s wonderful.

Be a child: Read with your child. There is nothing to beat a fairy tale to bond with your child, as well as improve your voice modulation. Get down on the floor and cuddle your little one. Take a walk to the nearby park with your child and point out the flowers and trees. If you have a teenager, have regular conversations; talk to him or her about the birds and the bees. Go for a movie impulsively with the family Become a little child yourself Buy that pop- corn, cotton candy or ice cream cone. Nobody is looking. Go on a holiday at least once a year It doesn’t have to be a long one. You can have a number of short holidays. Get yourself a pet. (Believe me, there’s nothing to beat the welcome you get from your pet dog when you return home.)

Share the load: A clean, orderly home reduces so much unnecessary tension. Everything in the right place makes existence so much simpler Sit down as a family and assign each other tasks. Dusting books and CDs can have a calming affect on your nerver at the workplace, learn to share your burden. Don’t take all the load on your shoulder. Learn to say ‘No’ if it affects your schedules. Trust your colleagues and delegate. Don’t do their fishing for them, teach them how to fish.

Reduce speed: Sure thats a con- tradiction in terms. At the workplace we want the assignment done yesterday not tomorrow! If only we could bend (E equals to MC square) to our will! Yet, one mustn’t get pulled in different directions. One step at a time, that’s the key Sometimes one must let go to see the light, to discover a new way of doing the same thing.

Take care of your health: It’s the most neglected aspect of existence. ‘Al work and no play make Jack a dull boy’ Don’t make grandiose plans: take a walk, go to yoga class, join a gym if you are so inclined, and take a swim. Take up a sport, any sport. Eat a well-balanced diet; reduce junk foods and pesticide-contaminated soft drinks. And don’t forget adequate rest, meaning ‘Please Sleep’.

Don’t postpone: When something needs to be done. Do it. Never procrastinate. Avoidance uses up more energy than actually doing it.

Have a positive approach: Look around you. There is so much to be grateful about. Take time to list things that you are thankful for it will be a good reminder of how much is going right for you. Remember it could have been worse.

Finally, take charge: It’s your life and as far as we know the only one we have. Plan ahead: short term, medium term, long term and then work towards them. A11this translates into HR departments paying more and more attention to the aspirations of every employee and creating parameters of social interactivity to enable them to constantly discover their true potential.

Thanks to HT media for their inputs