Category Archives: Balance

Is Your Organization An ACE?

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I rarely do book reviews here at Data Point Tuesday. When I do, it’s because the book is written specifically for my readers, HR professionals in the trenches, and because I know and respect the author. Today I’d like to recommend just such a book.

fulfilled-schiemannFulfilled! Critical Choices:  Work, Home, Life, written by William A. Schiemann, will be available on October 1. Lucky me, I got an advance copy and loved it! If you’re active in SHRM, then you have probably heard Bill speak at the Annual conference or at one of many state conferences where he continuously supports the HR profession. I saw Bill two weeks ago at the KYSHRM conference where we both keynoted. He’s a Ph.D. researcher, writer and consultant bringing evidence-based research into practical and useful focus for organizations of all types and sizes.

Fulfilled! Is a guidebook as well as a workbook – it helps you organize and chart the steps to find meaning in your life and your work, as well as supporting your organization in creating a culture where every employee can find that meaning. It’s full of true individual examples of people achieving real meaning as well as examples of people who missed the waypoints along the way and never achieved true fulfillment.

From an organizational perspective the organizing concept is ACE: alignment, capability and engagement, which Bill calls “People Equity.” Bill’s consulting firm, Metrus Group, has found that organizations with high People Equity have:

  • Higher profits or reach their goals more effectively
  • More loyal customers who buy more
  • High employee retention
  • Higher quality output

“The organizations that achieve high People Equity (high alignment, capabilities, and engagement) have a distinct advantage over their competitors. And the individuals who apply this concept to their live also win…”

I really appreciated both the individual and organizational discussions about alignment, capabilities and engagement. They are simple and easily understood – and so impactful. This is one “How-To” book that ought to be on every HR leader’s bookshelf.

I don’t want to give away the good stuff – the book is available on Amazon on October 1 and you should get it. But here’s a final view at the final chapters of the book, Life Lessons:

Lesson 1:  Keep the end in mind

Lesson 2:  Nurture your body

Lesson 3:  Build a social network (but have at least one fantastic friend)

Lesson 4:  Always seek things you are passionate about

Lesson 5:  Take reasonable risks

Lesson 6:  Never stop learning – never!

Lesson 7:  Stick to your values and spirituality

Lesson 8:  Resilience – find the silver lining

Lesson 9:  Give and get

Lesson 10:  Check in with yourself regularly – force it!

You may think to yourself, I’ve read this book before. But I assure you, you haven’t. Bill brings to life real people who made good decisions as well as mistakes; who risked it all and who played it safe; who learned and who never learned. And the organizing principle of People Equity is truly a new view backed by years of research and real life practice.

And after you’ve read Fullfilled!, take it with you to your next HR conference. Chances are good that Bill will be keynoting and you can get him to autograph it for you!

 

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Filed under Balance, Business Success, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Engagement, Happiness at Work, HR, HR Books, Human Resources, Performance, Productivity

The Love Hate Relationship: Technology and Work/Life Balance

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Does technology really help us in our endeavor for work/life balance? This is not a new question, but it remains an open one – if you believe that there is such a thing as work/life balance. I’ve always had a problem with this description and it drives me nuts. The issue is to what degree does work define your life, drive your life, and how do you make choices to live a full life – not a life just filled with work.

But all that aside, my initial response would be that technology aids us in our quest for a balanced life “A LOT” for the idea of working without the convenience of modern technology is certainly painful to contemplate. I would argue, however, that while we all shudder to think of life without remote access, the true relationship between technology and work/life balance may not be as simple as we think. Though helpful, the use of technology provides no automatic guarantee of a more balanced work and personal life, and we would be remiss if we didn’t remind ourselves of this from time to time. I found myself reflecting on this while reading the results of a 2013 global research study conducted by Accenture.

Accenture conducted an online survey to 4,100 business executives from medium to large organizations across 33 countries in order to gain insight on behaviors and attitudes towards women’s careers. One series of results stated “78% of respondents agreed that technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules.” However, “70% of respondents also agreed that technology brings work into their personal lives.” These two sentiments seem to be in diametric opposition to each other. So what’s the bottom line here? Is technology really helping us balance our work and our personal lives? These results would lead me to argue that I’m not the only one still feeling quite conflicted.

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The ability to have a flexible schedule because of the technology at our finger-tips provides a great resource for better balancing work and our personal lives. However, at the very same time these statistics point out that technology’s influence on flexibility can just as easily undermine our quest for life balance as it can help it. This is valuable information. It informs us that to capture the positive benefits of technology on work/life balance we much be proactive in our use of technology, set boundaries around our use, and be aware of what this use entails. Just as we seek to be informed consumers, we must be informed users, and recognize that for technology to help and not hurt our endeavors for life balance we must set personal boundaries in our use. Perhaps this means asking ourselves some “when, what, where, and why” questions about our use of technology. Or maybe this means creating accountability by telling a family member that we will only check email for a certain amount of time while on vacation. There are many options; it’s just a matter of finding one that works for you.

These diametrically opposing statistics also allow us to question the very definition of work/life “balance”. If technology helps us balance life and work as much as it hurts us balance them, I find myself wondering if there was really much “balancing” going on in the first place? Perhaps it’s antiquated to think of work and our personal lives as two separate things we can place on a scale. Instead we could look to these statistics as a clue that true work/life “balance” is not something we can objectively measure on a scale, but the feeling of “having it all” that comes from leveraging the people, places and things in our lives (like technology) to create a sense of harmony.

We’ve all read the articles; we’ve heard the debates about whether technology hurts us, helps us, is “good” or “bad” and we know that technology and the ensuing ability to work from anywhere has probably left traditional “office walls” gone for good. Ultimately though, the question of whether or not technology helps or hurts our search for life balance can only be answered on an individual basis, and it is our individual use and personal choices that will determine whether or  not technology helps us balance our work and personal lives, or if it tips the proverbial scale.

Tell me in the comments section what your take is on the technology and work/life balance relationship!

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Filed under Accenture, Balance, China Gorman, Workflex