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Find Balance; Be Busy

Charge Bikes, SomersetImage by Into Somerset via Flickr

Do your employees have work/life balance? Do you? With all the downsizing and rightsizing going on, people are busier than ever at work, putting in longer hours, carrying more stress. Being busy may not be the problem though.

Research on well-being shows that the best adjusted people are generally the busiest people, on- and off-work. These are individuals who are not one-dimensional. They're not so consumed and focused on what's happening at work that when they leave work, they're too exhausted to do more than crash and cocoon. They have found a way to force the issue of balance in their lives.

As an employer, one of the most valuable benefits you can provide your associates is assistance in regaining much needed space and sanity and, yes, balance, in their lives. You can do this by:

  • modeling this practice yourself as a leader. Talk about your passions outside work. Bring in pictures of yourself skydiving. Keep your golf trophy on your credenza. Demonstrate that it's okay -- and important -- to totally disengage from work once in a while and do something you enjoy. Set the right tone for living with balance by way of your consistent behaviors.
  • encouraging others at work to add things to their off-work life. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best adjusted people force themselves to structure off-work activities just as much as on-work activities. They schedule them, structuring them into their lives. Times to exercise. Community, religious or sports activities. Coffee with friends. Things they enjoy doing, but without time set aside for them, work and life's busiest crowds them out.
  • providing perks that are especially considerate of employees' busy lives, like flexible hours, telecommuting, and parent friendly assistance. Such perks don't have to be costly. McGraw Wentworth, a provider of group benefits, offers on-site pickup and return of clothes that need laundering. Think of the off-work hours saved with that benefit! Hours that can be spent playing with the kids, reading, biking.

E.B. White said, "I arise each morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. That makes it hard to plan the day."

 Finding that balance between "saving and savoring" -- between work and non-work -- is hard, but vital. So, get busy.

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