Balancing Work and Life for Your Team”
In episode #9 of the Mindset Master Podcast, Farooq Cheema, known as the “breaker of corporate hamster wheels” and the “demolisher of mental boundaries,” delves into the age-old question that plagues both employees and employers alike: “How do I improve the work-life balance for my employees?” In this enlightening conversation, he offers valuable insights and practical advice on achieving this delicate equilibrium in a world where opinions on work-life balance are as diverse as the people themselves.
Defining Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance has always been a contentious topic, with different individuals having contrasting perspectives on what it entails. As Farooq points out, the concept of work-life balance is subjective. It’s not necessarily a dichotomy of work being “bad” and life being “good” or vice versa. Rather, the aim is to merge the two so that they mutually enrich one another.
Farooq proposes that work and life should be interconnected, with each feeding the other. If you’re doing what you’re passionate about and that passion enables you to fulfill your familial, societal, and personal commitments, then where’s the imbalance? The key, therefore, lies in pursuing a career that aligns with your passion and values.
Start with Self
Before attempting to enhance the work-life balance of your employees, Farooq underscores the importance of improving your own work-life balance. After all, as a leader or employer, you must lead by example. If you’re not achieving equilibrium in your own life, it’s challenging to guide others in that direction.
Understanding Your Team
Farooq emphasizes that to aid your employees in finding their work-life balance, you must first understand their individual aspirations and motivators. Not everyone has the same priorities, and not everyone’s job is their sole focus. Some may be as committed to their personal goals as they are to their work, and that’s perfectly acceptable.
Conversations about employees’ career aspirations, personal commitments, and expectations should be commonplace. A good leader is genuinely interested in their employees’ lives outside of work and is willing to accommodate individual needs and ambitions. When employees are happy and motivated, they’re more productive and contribute positively to the organization and society.
The Guilt Factor
Farooq highlights that many people experience guilt when they perceive their work-life balance as out of sync. This guilt is often unfounded. It’s essential to differentiate between true work-life balance issues and societal pressures or unrealistic expectations generated by external influences, such as movies and media.
If your personal life, relationships, and other commitments are thriving, you might not be as “out of balance” as you think. It’s crucial to recognize when you’re genuinely out of balance, often indicated by your family, friends, or personal life suffering. But the guilt of “not doing enough” should be dismissed if it’s driven by external comparisons and not by actual issues within your life.
Finding the Right Fit for Your Team
In the hiring process, it’s challenging to gauge a candidate’s work-life balance needs. Farooq acknowledges that many candidates may put on a facade during interviews, offering the answers they believe employers want to hear. To address this, he suggests asking probing questions, such as discussing past experiences or inquiring about their extracurricular activities to get a better sense of their work-life priorities.
However, it’s also essential for candidates to know themselves better. Individuals should invest time in self-reflection, journaling, or discussions with friends and significant others to clarify their life goals and work-life balance preferences.
What If You Don’t Know What You Want?
For those who are uncertain about their ideal work-life balance, Farooq advises granting themselves the grace to figure it out. Not having a clear vision is a common experience, especially for those whose life situations and priorities are continually evolving. Journaling and open discussions with loved ones can be invaluable tools in this self-discovery process.
Work-life balance is a nuanced subject with no one-size-fits-all solution. It requires a deep understanding of oneself, compassionate leadership, and open dialogue between employers and employees. It’s crucial to dispel the guilt associated with imbalanced perceptions that may stem from external pressures rather than genuine issues.
Ultimately, by pursuing what aligns with your passions and values and by encouraging your employees to do the same, you’ll find that work and life can harmoniously coexist. Work-life balance isn’t about splitting your time down the middle but about making sure that your time is well-spent, both personally and professionally. It’s not a state of equilibrium but a state of fulfillment and contentment.