Wednesday, December 21, 2020

News Summary—Work:Life Balance

I collect articles and quotes relevant to Slow Leadership and they're building up. So I've decided to take a quick break from my holiday to share a few with you. Here are some on of those on work: life balance I've collected recently.

In England, Jaguar and Land Rover were this week named as winners of the first Women in Science Engineering and Technology (SET) Award at the Working Families Employer of the Year Awards. Part of the reason for the award was said to be "the development of detailed and comprehensive policies aimed at enabling employees to adopt self-help strategies to reduce any strain on their personal / home life as a result of demands of work." What's even more interesting is the business benefit from this kind of action. According to the article: "All this has resulted in 99% retention of women returning from maternity leave."

The situation seems much less rosy in Australia, according to an article in BRW magazine. It states: "Most companies have been largely unwilling or unable to give workers the opportunity to adjust their work/life balance. Employees must make the choices for themselves - and it could be a painful process. Want more pay? Then you must be prepared to spend more time in the office. Want to work part-time? Be prepared to jam five days' work into three or four. Want a seachange? Be prepared to live more frugally. Want a new job? Be prepared to move sideways or leap into another career entirely." The magazine has a series of somewhat gloomy articles on how Australians are joining others in the developed world in having more wealth, but less civilized lifestyles.

Even conservative church magazines are noting the trend. In the USA, has an article quoting Columnist Amy Joyce of the Washington Post, who has been following the lives of 80-hour-a-week Washingtonians. In 2004, she wrote about Lisa, whose father worked long hours and died before he could pursue any of his dreams and hobbies. This left Lisa "with strong feelings regarding the importance of maintaining a work-life balance." Then there's Kate, who has found a good balance: "Work will come and go, she reasons. But there is only one life." The same article also mentions Lisa Belkin, writing in The New York Times Magazine about eight highly successful women who "had it all" and found it all unsatisfying. While the heavy-handed emphasis in the article on motherhood as "God's will" is sadly retrograde, it's good that even such right-wing, conservative outlets have picked up on the real problems of meeting old-fashioned ideas of Protestant work ethic.

Also from the deeply religious and conservative South comes this article from the Huntsville Times of Alabama. The writer points to "lifestyle entrepreneurs": people who start a business to create the lifestyle they want, not just to make money. The writer says: "he common denominator for this type of entrepreneur is the desire to achieve balance. Specifically, that means balance between work and life. No more 14-hour work days, or being permanently tethered to a BlackBerry for these folks. You may see a lifestyle entrepreneur skydiving during the middle of the day, or cutting out a few hours early for a round of golf before the sun sets. These entrepreneurs even manage to spend a relaxing, uninterrupted weekend with their families. Whatever their pleasure, these special breeds of small-business owners are creating companies that support a desired lifestyle now rather than later."

Here's the part I like best: "they don't need to double margins over the next year, or buy a competitor to expand their production capabilities. Instead, they work on maintaining that targeted business level that feeds the corporate instinct but keeps stress levels in check." There's even a book you can read about this. It's called "How To Succeed as a Lifestyle Entrepreneur" by Gary Schine.

I'll maybe share a few more cuttings when I start to get "blog withdrawal syndrome" too badly.

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Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment that this article presents motherhood as "God's will" and that this is "sadly retrograde," let's look at the article itself:

"This illustrates plainly the natural order—that is, the way God created us. We're wired for work, of course, to be productive, but we're also created to have children and raise them."

I get the feeling that if any secular--or even new age--magazine said that we are wired for both productivity and parenting, that we were created/evolved for both roles, it would not be taken as a "sadly retrograde" comment but as an enlightened expression of the need for work-life balance.

By the way, I still thought it was a great post, and you're still one of my favorite blogs.

Bill Rice

7:16 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...


You have a fair point, but I stick by my view that the quoted article, as a whole, wasn't at all positive about women having a proper place outside the home -- a viewpoint I can't accept.

Still, thanks for the warm comments about this blog. Debate is a good thing and you're a very welcome reader.

8:45 AM  

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