Stop Work Shaming With Work-Life Balance Nonsense |

Learn why the work life balance discussion breeds resentment and how to make employees feel like their gaining by coming to work.

July 3rd, 2017   |    By: Carmen Sample    |    Tags: Culture, Work-Life Balance, Emotional Support

Let’s stop work shaming people that like to work hard and using “work/life balance” as an easy expression to do so.

Work Life Balance

“I work to live, I don’t live to work”

“I really need a work/life balance”

Whenever someone says this or any variation of this as though it is a new idea I can’t help but roll my eyes and think “Duh”. People say it as though there is someone in the room that feels differently or will argue with them…as though someone is going to stand up and challenge them to say “I put work above my family — you should too!”… Please.

Mad Men Clip

The truth? The conversation isn’t about family at all. These conversations tend to come up when someone is feeling like they aren’t doing well at work or aren’t doing well at home, though somehow it get’s twisted into being the employer’s fault. People that are happy don’t talk about the need for balance….because they have figured out HOW to balance it.

Thus, the “I need a work/life balance” discussion starts breeding resentment from the employee and employer standpoint for a few reasons:

  1. The employee is feeling that they simply can’t get the work done in a way that they want to per their own lifestyle choice and they feel as though their personal plea of not balancing their own lives will be an effective way to reduce the workload.
  2. The boss is feeling resentment as the statement implies that the boss doesn’t have balance or that they are expecting you to sacrifice something in order to get the necessary work done.

As the employer, I don’t expect people to sacrifice anything. I will go to great lengths to find people that feel they are GAINING to come to work, not sacrificing to do so.

I simply find people that want to work hard, but are able to do it in a way where they can experience the lifestyle they want. I don’t manipulate them or try to coerce them into it.

I’m simply saying “Hey, this is what I need for the business and I’m comfortable with the lifestyle and “balance” that comes with making that happen. People on the team need to be able to do what is needed for the business while experiencing their lifestyle of choice.

So why does it get more complicated than that? Because some people expect the employer to provide them a work/life balance.

Here is the truth: It isn’t the employer’s job to provide someone with a work/life balance. It is the employer’s job to provide you with meaningful work that is necessary per the demands of the business…..AND….you’re welcome.

I have a different challenge for people who come in whining about their “balance” issues — Every time you feel the need to qualify “My family comes first” and that is the reason I choose xyz, you should think about WHY you are saying it — what is your real worry/motivation?

Having experienced this work shaming situation numerous times, I think that people bring this up for:

  1. An excuse to not work in the way the position requires you to work or
  2. A way to bully the boss into feeling guilty about asking someone to work in the way the business needs……Or probably both.

Remember this: It is the entrepreneur/owner’s job to do whatever it takes to make the company successful as without that person’s drive and ambition, you wouldn’t have a job to complain about.

Thus, don’t attempt to crush the entrepreneur’s agenda with your personal drama about how you want to do xyz at home. Running interference on an entrepreneur’s ability to do their job will hurt many more people than just you.

I don’t think it is a conversation about work/life balance, but should instead be a discussion regarding disconnect of working expectations. Hear this: working expectations are set by what the company needs to run effectively in order to stay in business.

If you want an 8–5pm job, don’t take a position in a company that is running 24/7. If you want to not think about work after you leave the office, don’t take a position that is on-call. If you don’t want to be available all the time, then don’t take a high-demand position.

It’s like an Astronaut calling their boss at NASA from space saying they want to come home because they aren’t getting enough “family time” and it is NASA’s fault for not providing a work/life balance to them.

Bottom line: Don’t get angry with your employer for expecting you to do the job for which you were hired to do.

The answer — find the job with the “balance” you are searching for. Don’t expect your employer to adjust their expectations and provide it to you — it simply is not their job to do so.

If you get enough meaning/challenge in your life from a job you can leave at 5pm every day and not think about until 8am the next morning then you should work at that job. If you like the hustle and the non-stop thoughts and the constant search for more, even if it is after 5pm, then find the job that provides that challenge.

I choose a job that I love and that I want to work hard at. It takes time and commitment and dedication to do it well. It always extends past 5pm. It always requires weekend work. It is never “done”.

No, I’m not upset about it. Yes, it takes time, though it is time well spent. I don’t ever think people that choose a demanding job are choosing their job “OVER” their family.

They are choosing both and balancing it in their own way that they prefer for what makes them happy. Let’s let people choose both work and home in their own way and not shame them for it.

Wife. Mom. Boss.

About the Author

Carmen Sample

Carmen Sample is a Social Entrepreneur that built a 10 million dollar biz in 7 years, including a social service agency, treatment agency, retail biz, gallery and a restaurant. Follow her on Twitter: @carmensampleco

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