The advent of globalization in India led to huge changes in work as we knew it. Among these was a shift from traditional “9 to 5” jobs with the rise of the service industry. There is a work culture in these industries that expected people to be available almost round the clock. This has led to questions about what is popularly known as “work-life balance”.
The term “work-life balance” is often misinterpreted as the need to find a balance between long working hours and time spent on one's personal/family life, and the view that inability to find such a balance leads to stress, disengagement etc. We beg to differ. We believe that the overall “well-being” of an employee is a measure of happiness. This is represented not by the time spent away from family but by the overall quality of life of the employee - both at work and outside of it.
In a study1 conducted by IBM Kenexa, we measured perceptions of 36,000 employees across 27 countries about what constitutes employee well-being and a good quality of life. We found that “satisfaction of personal/family life” is only one of the seven factors that constitute well-being. We choose to look at this as work-life blend2 --- meaning “work and life” blends with each other and cannot be compartmentalized.
Embracing work-life blend
Confucius said “Do something that you love and you will never work a day in your life”. When people are fully engaged with the work they do, which includes being in a job they love and a work culture that maximizes their experience, this spills over into every part of their life. We describe this as achieving your career’s bull’s- eye, which is an intersection of what we call the 3 Ps. This construct consists of Passion (your ultimate dream work), Purpose (the area where you want to make a difference) and Pay is (the level of compensation that is essential to meet your specific needs). The optimal intersection of these three differs from one person to the next.
Engagement3 is a critical aspect for well-being. We define employee engagement as the extent to which an individual puts in discretionary efforts to achieve organizational goals. An engaged employee is not only more healthy and happy, he is a better parent, spouse and community member. Organizational drivers that impact employee engagement include trust in leadership, recognition for the employee's contribution, and the knowledge that the organization is invested in their growth and development. Leadership behavior should induce feelings of trust and confidence in the future of the company.
Each one of us can make a big difference for our well-being by staying engaged - constantly increase our contributions, continuously challenging one self, relate to the mission and finally learn, innovate and drive collaborative work culture. We recommends that organizations also enable employees to get more social, support the employees with information on the move and base its decision on data and insights. Many of our clients have empowered the employees through digital media and practically flattened the organization. They have enabled their employees to have information on fingertips. Embracing mobile technology has improved productivity and also better responsiveness to their customers. Decisions based on precise data would be more appropriate and it builds trust in the system.
We believe both organization and the employees together build a harmony - a combination of engagement and alignment for superior business performance. Thousands of our clients have adopted practices to enable the workforce and millions of employees have benefited by being engaged – and achieve the work life blend!
1 Study conducted by IBM Kenexa on Quality of life across 27 countries and 36000 employees.
2 From WE the book by Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse. www.wethebook.com
3 Smarter Workforce measures employee engagement as a combination of pride, satisfaction, advocacy and commitment
Coauthored by Shakun Khanna, Executive Consulting Leader for the Smarter Workforce Consulting Team.