Companies, organizations and entities of every size, across industries and geographies put the theme of work/life balance at the top of their Human Recourses agenda. Companies over the last decade have increasingly spent time and resources to understand what their staff and employees need and to map those needs with the needs of the companies in the effort of increasing productivity at work and their corporate image in a world where focus is high on recruiting and more importantly retaining scares top talent. Professional services companies are front and center in the battle for talent and are pursuing and promoting HR policies that support the work/life balance agenda.
The new generation of professionals no longer perceives success in their professional life as the most important source of satisfaction and personal happiness. This generation assigns a lot of weight to the second element in their definition of success and that element is having a successful personal life.
This is the tricky part in my opinion. What is the definition of a successful personal life? Is the definition the same for all? If we consider just a couple variables that might factor into the definition of a successful and happy personal life such as gender, different age group and geographies, we will find that it hard, no, in fact difficult to find a single formula to fit all.
Having said that, the question that comes to mind, is the promise of a work/life balance and the fulfillment of this promise the sole responsibility of companies; or does some of that responsibility fall upon the shoulders of the staff and employees themselves?
In my opinion, companies have an enormous responsibility and play a major part in the fulfillment of the promise but individuals have an equally vital role in the process. While companies are required to encourage, support and promote work/life balance through developing and implementing HR policies in this regard, it is the individuals that need to decide on what works for them and what is their personal preference or definition of a successful work/life balance depending on the stage of their lives they are at, their character and their vision of where they want to be in the near and far future, on a professional and personal basis. Once an individual is confident with the choice he/she has made, the policies and procedures that companies should have established should be able to support reasonable work/life balance decisions of its staff.
Needless to say that what works for an individual is not a constant and that is why, individuals should not be afraid to shift or tip the balance in either direction depending on the circumstances surrounding them and is best for their wellbeing, professionally and personally.
Equally important is that we as individuals are aware that our choices do not come without consequences that we need to ready to accept and manage to achieve the promise of work/life balance that best serves our personal and professional aspirations and goals.
Ask yourself this, have you achieved your work/life balance promise?
By Nada Maalouf, partner, Audit, Deloitte Middle East