We make choices every day about our work: what is most important, what to delegate, what isn’t worth our time, and where our energy and focus can be used most effectively. We do the same thing about the lives we lead when we leave work: what is most important, what adds to our enjoyment, what is a necessary responsibility, what isn’t worth our time, and where our energy and focus can be used most effectively. Our lives are a series of goals and choices.
Our culture has become increasingly diverse and the multiple generations that share the workplace each have their own set of values, beliefs and priorities. Not only are people at different stages in their lives, organizations are at different stages in their development as well.
The idea of Work/Home parity (or Balance) means different things to different people. The folks who recently retired most likely thought that the issue of balance was more of a sequential issue: “First I’ll work, and when I retire, I’ll play with the grandkids.” Baby Boomers are thinking about staying at work longer (often due to financial considerations), considering a second career, and may feel sandwiched in between the needs of elderly parents and their kids, just when the career pressures ramp up. Gen X-ers are entering midcareer and feel the pressure of making a misstep, while members of Gen Y are just starting out in the workforce and expect to put themselves first when it comes to life satisfaction.
When it comes to creating a Work/Home balance, different generational needs can often be addressed with technology, flextime, mentoring, providing opportunities for an accelerated on-ramp if they depart and return to work, and creating a culture that is values flexibility. Organizations are focused on their goals and people are focused on theirs. When the two dovetail – it can create a mutually beneficial relationship. It shouldn’t be a battle.