What does work-life balance actually mean? How do you know if you have a good work/life balance? And what can you do to achieve or maintain it?
My search began at http://www.wikipedia.org/. They define work-life balance as “a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” and “lifestyle”. It goes on to say that the expression was invented in the mid 1800’s. Anthropologists said happiness occurs when there’s as little separation as possible “between your work and your play”. Here we are in the 21st century and we’re still trying to figure out that balance.
The proliferation of technology has not helped matters. Laptops, smartphones and the internet have, for the most part, removed office walls and allowed us more freedom to work but also raised the expectation of when and how much we work. This can translate into a higher rate of stress among workers, less job satisfaction, more sick days and lost productivity.
To see what my work-life balance equation looked like, I took the “work-life balance quiz” on the Canadian Mental Health Association website. My results surprised me! You can try the quiz too at www.cmha.ca/mental_health/work-life-balance-quiz
The results from the quiz prompted me to brainstorm a few ideas to see where I could make some improvements. Here’s what I came up with:
- Build downtime into my schedule. By this I mean, go for walks regularly, read a trashy novel, take a hot bath, listen to music or paint.
- Get moving! We all know exercise has tremendous health benefits, including reducing stress. Maybe a colleague would like to start a morning or after work walking or running routine.
- Avoid activities that zap my time. This includes surfing the net, checking Facebook or watching TV shows that I’m really not that interested in.
- Say “no” more often. This involves setting personal boundaries and sticking to them.
- Ask my employer what work options are available. Does my company offer flextime, part time or the ability to work from home?
And, here’s the big one,
- Leave work at work. Commit to turning off the devices after I leave for the day. Maybe not every day but certainly some days.
Urgency to fill the role
You would not be hiring in the first place if you really didn’t need the work to be done. Many hiring managers make the mistake of moving so quickly through the recruiting process that they end up just getting that warm body in the seat; and then one of two things happens. Either the chosen candidate wasn’t the right candidate and you end up firing them a few months later, or the chosen candidate realizes the role is not the right fit for her so she ends up resigning a few months later. Either way, the tendency to rush through the recruiting life cycle ends up costing companies in the end, to the tune of up to 14 times the candidate’s base salary.
Using expensive headhunters
Due to the sense of urgency to fill the role, many companies turn to headhunters thinking they are the panacea of a quick turnaround with the right candidate. If you haven’t taken the time to build a relationship with a headhunter and vice versa, chances are the headhunter will not know enough about your company’s and team’s culture or the role to be able to find that perfect candidate for you. You’ll end up with the same result in reason #1.
Unclear job and skill requirements
In the haste to get a job posted and start getting that flood of resumes in, many hiring managers do not take the time to flesh out in detail the job duties and the skills required for success in the role. This makes it tough to articulate clearly to candidates what you are looking for, and you may unwittingly miss the mark and attract the wrong candidates for the role. A well written job description will save you both time and money by honing in on the right candidates the first time round.
Hiring someone just like you
The “just like me” effect is easy for even the most seasoned hiring managers to fall in to. We all gravitate towards personalities that are just like ours. However, you may not need another you on your team. Having a clearly defined job description and knowing the competencies required to successfully do the job lends objectivity to the hiring process. Choosing behavioral based interview questions carefully based on the competencies you require will ensure you are collecting the appropriate data from each candidate to be able to make an objective decision. Having other members of your team help interview and assess the candidates provides another viewpoint to help ensure the “just like me” effect is not the reason a particular candidate is offered the job.
Failure to conduct effective reference and background checks
In the rush to get an offer out to the candidates, hiring managers often disregard this important step. Not every candidate is who they say they are. Checking references of previous employers, ensuring the educational credentials are valid, and candidates pass a criminal check is essential information to help employers ensure they are making the right decision. You must first obtain the candidate’s consent allowing you to verify the information your candidate has provided.
The old adage of a stitch in time saves nine certainly applies to the recruiting process. By taking the time to do things right the first time, you will save yourself the aggravation of having to go through the whole process again in the near future. SymphonyHR can streamline your recruiting process and make sure that great candidates do not fall through the cracks.