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Finding Harmony: Debunking the Myth of Work-Life Balance

For many years now I have been very interested in the concept of work-life balance. It was over two decades ago that I first heard the term, but implementing it seemed an impossible hill to climb. A foreign concept. Yet, futurists were talking about it as if it was something that companies should start to consider.

Over 20 years ago when I was running Career Planning & Management workshops for Government agencies and the banking & insurance sector. I recall saying at the time that this is what futurists like Charles Handy were talking about. Participants were very firm in their view that this would never happen. I mean, what would it even look like? Well, here we are in 2024 and it is a hot topic, especially since we began 'working from' thanks to Covid.

In order to have a closer look at the concept of work-life balance from a 2024 perspective I am going to ask a question from an employer's perspective and provide a response from my point of view

Question: These days there seems to be a lot of pressure on companies to provide work-life balance opportunities for employees but what about the employee's obligation to provide outcomes for the company that is paying them?

Response: It is true that employees have an obligation to provide outcomes for the company that is paying them, however now that we are 20 or more years down the track considerable research shows that good work-life balance policies can actually lead to greater productivity, lower levels of workplace stress and increased job satisfaction.

As a former senior manager in the public sector, I do have some personal observations to make about this.

  1. There is no 1 size fits all model. Just because one organisation is able to offer for example 'remote work' (and this is a hot potato at the moment) doesn't mean all organisations should offer it. Client facing jobs can't do this, unless of course you want them turning up to your home.

  2. Developing work-life balance policies should be codesigned by the organisation and the employees. Good policies must be realistic and achievable.

What are some things that could be considered?

  1. Where feasible, flexible work hours may be worth discussion.

  2. Working from home or other locations closer to home. (During the covid lockdowns I was required to work from home. I saved 2 -3 hours per day just in travel time and sometimes 6 hours in a day if I had a meeting in the city. I was less tired, more present in relationships and importantly much more productive. But you know it wasn't cart blanche. I had to set up a dedicated workspace, be committed to do the work and produce outcomes. I know these were extraordinary times, but I do know people who abused this opportunity and betrayed the trust of the employer. One person even painted their house during their work hours (and bragged about it). Trust is a key and well considered boundaries and accountabilities need to be established and agreed upon.

  3. Offering purchased leave is also worthy of consideration and I understand many organisation do this. It is obviously easier for larger companies to do this than smaller ones.

  4. Encouraging employees to develop a non-work personal identity. Now you may say that this is none of the organisation's business - and you are correct - however, I know first-hand the power of providing a workshop on the concept of work-life balance and identity. So much of our identity is around what we do and not who we are. This is something I am very passionate about. A good work-life balance workshop helps participant to discover their needs and values and provides tools to assist them in setting realistic goals.

If you are interested in the concept of work-life balance, there are options for 1-1 coaching, joining a small group workshop or having your organisation schedule a one day workshop. If you would like further information please contact us through our email or check out or website

I would be very interested in reader's thoughts about work-life balance both from the employer perspective and the employee perspective. What have you seen that works well? What made it successful? What has not worked and why?

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