by Brant Insero — Originally published in the August/September 2019 issue of ISSA
During a recent industry trade show, I had the privilege and opportunity to speak about management of a multi-generational workforce.
Within our discussions, there was a significant aha! moment as we discussed younger generations and their stereotypical tendencies of wanting a stable work-life balance.
Many of the attendees have experienced pain as it relates to the accountability and commitment of young professionals. It is often assumed that millennials do not want to work more than a few hours per day, while demanding strong salaries to compensate them for their college degree. The idea of working “9 to 5” seems to be fading away, much like Dolly Parton’s song.
Younger professionals are daily changing the culture of the companies that employ them. As the professional enters the workforce, they have a completely different set of core values compared to older generations, and this can be difficult for many employers to manage. Because most management professionals are of the baby-boom generation, they tend to have their blinders on as to what really matters to the current workforce.
Enter ‘work-life balance’
A popular topic in business today is “work-life balance.” This common phrase emphasizes that individuals really want to have equal time and investment for their career as they do their personal life.
I used to feel the same way early on in my career. Hanging out at a concert, going golfing, and spending time with my family were more important to me than my career, and because of this, I tended to sway my balance toward life. While focusing my time and attention on the joys of life rather than work, I created an atmosphere of instability because of my neglect of work.
This is not a cultural problem with a specific generation. It’s a people problem. Professionals of all ages attempt this work-life balance that never remains a consistently balanced outcome. Instead, the scale tends to lean in one direction over the other, forcing something to suffer.
Being human, you never want to let anyone down and feel like a failure. In order to do this, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the people you affect with the choices that you make. If you decide that today is the day that you should go fishing rather than finish a report that is drastically needed, you are no longer balanced. If you decide to take multiple work trips back-to-back and miss memorable events in your children’s lives, those can cause a dramatic impact to your family.
Time for integration
Something that I practice is work-life integration, rather than a balance. We need both things to attain our goals. We need to be a successful professional to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The reverse is true as well. We need a lifestyle that is satisfying enough to provide a strong work ethic.
Often, I am buried at work with projects and crunching numbers, just like any other management level professional. At times, I also need to continue furthering my education. Managing work, while going to school, and effectively managing my time with the family, will automatically cause stress. It is impossible for me to balance three things at once. As a result, I focus my schedule on a work-life integration.
Imagine that your child is playing first base for your local little league and you are supposed to be at a game by 6 p.m. You have a financial report due in the morning and a class assignment due at 11:59 p.m. You are stressed because you need to spend time with your child, as he or she hasn’t seen their mom or dad all week because of a work trip.
What can you do?
I can’t stress enough the importance of the work-life integration method. While your child is up to bat, put your phone away or computer down. Trust me, you don’t want to miss their first home run or RBI. Focus those three minutes on your child and enjoy the moment. Once your child makes it back to the bench, work on your report or answer the email.
This is work-life integration. If you can master this process, you can effectively make any situation work.
The same principles can work at any point in time when it comes to balancing your work with your personal life. If you make every minute and moment count, before you know it, your stress will lessen. Remember, your life will not be balanced without integration. If you want to alleviate your stress, integration creates a balance that creates success.
Work-life integration can’t be mastered overnight. It takes planning and thought to work through this process.
Brant Insero is the director of education, certifications, and standards with ISSA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.