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Work Life Balance

Asmeeta Kachroo
Asmeeta Kachroo
GM - Corporate Resource Centre Head placements & Asst. Professor, Amity Business School
Asmeeta is an B.A., PGDBA (MBA) from the Institute of Productivity and Management, Meerut. She he... more>>
Everyone wants to achieve a balance between their work and family life. But how do we do that? May be we are struggling with work pressures, family pressure. Have we tried to find the quality time to spend with our loved ones and at the same time given our best at work place?

Are we struggling and battling with priorities and deadlines? Are women struggling with self-esteem and managing their work-life balance?

What to do and how, we keep asking our selves all the time.
All of us have 24 hours a day to perform the duties and the activities of our life.

When work life and personal life are out of balance, your stress level is likely to soar.

Practitioners have been writing a lot about work and family balance. With significant changes in the socio-cultural environment like nuclear families, career oriented couples,  significant increased women’s participation in the workforce, changing expectation of men in society, changes in traditional gender roles within homes, work life balance assumes greater significance.

In recent times, the advent of technology like computers and blackberry has resulted in more and more professionals becoming employees of an organization 24/7. They are expected to be on call and mail at all times of the day. Apart from this, integration to global markets with significant time differences across geographies has blurred the boundary between work and family. All of these pose acute challenges in managing work and home.

Times have changed. From the time the husband earned, and the wife stayed at home. To the time now when the husband earns and the wife earns too. But the wife still cooks and washes and runs the house. She is a super mom & wife. The rhetoric surrounding motherhood doesn’t help us make decisions about motherhood, either. We all know by that being a mom is the most important job in the world.

So, how does she balance her work with life at home?
This phenomenon gets accentuated for women, who in most societies are expected to play multiple roles, as caretakers at home and as professionals at work place. Therefore, much work-family balance has focused on work family conflict and its impact on stress, career growth and life satisfaction for an employee and poor performance, decreased job satisfaction, burnout and voluntary turnover for organizations.Although, over the years women in India have struggled to establish an identity & create a mark in the social as well as in the organizational platforms, but with educational institutions training more and more women to enter professional careers, have drastically changed the scenario.

Therefore, the need for certain flexibility in work related policies like extended maternity, work from home, part time work and career breaks. All of these allow for achieving time balance.
The change in the pattern of work and the concept of the workplace after the industrial revolution in the second half of the 18th century gave a new dimension to the concept of Work Life Balance. As time progressed, nuclear families increased. A later change was the fading away of the "ideal home" in which the earning members spouse took care of the home.

With improved education and employment opportunities today, most homes are ones in which both parents work, because of necessity and the desire to augment incomes.

Why Work Life Balance is Important to Women? Todays career women are continually challenged by the demands of full-time work and when the day is done at the office, they carry more of the responsibilities and commitments to home. The majority of women are working 40-45 hours per week and working women are struggling to achieve work/life balance. Women lives are a juggling act that included multiple responsibilities at work, heavy meeting schedules, business trips, on top of managing the daily routine responsibilities of life and home. "Successfully achieving work/life balance will ultimately create a more satisfied workforce that contributes to productivity and success in the workplace." Employers can facilitate Work Life Balance with many schemes that can attract women employees and satisfy their needs.

Some of these are

Facilities for child care ,Financial planning services, Flexi-timings ,Work sharing ,Part time employment ,Leave plans, Subsidized food plans ,Insurance plans ,Counseling services for problems like managing work and the home ,Rest room ,Realistic work loads ,Review of work processes .

Often, working women drop out of the work force when they are doing well, simply because they wanted to stay at home with their children, or care for an ageing parent. Or for both reasons. And then there are women who marry late or have children later in life because they want to work for reasons of personal satisfaction or for the money. So, can a woman have it all? The working woman should refuse to take on too much of burdens. She should adopt a sense of priorities. If she has children, she should teach them to share responsibilities. She should tell the children that if she is working it’s for their needs and to give them a comfortable life. She is slogging to maintain a home with all the facilities available to the members of family..

But what about the husband?  Has he changed at all. Well in our society men haven’t changed much. Only stray cases are there. In Indian society women are expected to do everything round the clock. She hardly is expected to relax or to have time off.
A woman should Budget time both in and out of the office - Schedule time efficiently at work. Put a calendar and take some time for herself and the family / friends. Leave work on time - There are times when working late just cant be helped, but schedule your time to leave on time at least few days per week.

Control interruptions and distractions - Stay focused while in the office, and budget your time effectively.  When at work place give your hundred percent to work, do not carry home tensions to office.
Explore the availability of flex-time - Research flex-time options within your organization. If available, it may be a helpful solution. Flexi timing should be followed religiously.

Plan your time off as you plan your work week. Schedule activities with family and friends, a weekend trip, or just something fun.All this really matters and counts.

Role integration between work and family can lead to enhanced well being though it’s a Tough choice. However, satisfaction is more than time balance. It is about whether I enjoy the role I am performing, whether i experience security at work, whether my work environment is supportive and challenging, whether i am upgrading myself or not etc. In general, working women professionals are likely to experience greater impact of work life balance.  
The nature of industry and sector also impacts work life balance for employees.

 How do individuals cope with work family balance: Manage self :  This would start from asking yourself, how ambitious are you; what price are you willing to pay in which sphere of your life, how well do you  plan, how well do you manage time

 Managing the work: do some planning, delegate, use technology productively and efficiently, set goals, review yourself, say no if someone makes unreasonable demands (this is tough, will appear strange initially, but once you get to do it more often, it becomes ok.

Manage relationships: significant relationships require nurture. Therefore, invest time in them. Often people say that it is the quality of relationship that matters; yes it does, only if there is quantity of time that one can demonstrate the quality of relationships. Be prepared to say sorry since you will be making trade offs against priorities.

Conclusion for working women, getting caught in the work/life balance trap will continue to be an ongoing challenge. Careful planning and personal effort is the advice from those who have found balance in both career and home life. Plan, prioritize and schedule as efficiently as possible... and dont be afraid of hard work! Work-life balance is a persons control over the conditions in their workplace. It is accomplished when an individual feels dually satisfied about their personal life and their paid occupation. It mutually benefits the individual, business and society when a person’s personal life is balanced with his or her own job. The work-life balance strategy offers a variety of means to reduce stress levels and increase job satisfaction in the employee while enhancing business benefits for the employer. In our increasingly hectic world, the work-life strategy seeks to find a balance between work and play.

 "Work to live. Dont live to work."

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