By Tiffany Stock
Coming back to work after my third child really made me step back and evaluate if I had the elusive work-life balance. Taking a look at the definition provided by businessdictionary.com, work-life balance is defined as, “A comfortable state of equilibrium achieved between an employee’s primary priorities of their employment position and their private lifestyle.” The word equilibrium implies “equal” but is there really such a thing? One of my colleagues did an earlier post about work-life balance and some things you could try to help create that balance, click here if you’d like to check out that post. This post is much more about defining what work-life balance means to you (and to me) which is completely situational.
Depending on the industry you are in, your day-to-day can look very similar, but if it’s anything like mine, every day there is something new. A new piece of legislation or guidance that impacts my clients or the work I do, business changes that impact the benefits our clients provide, changes to our state budget that effect our client’s workforce, internal and employee scenarios, etc. – there are so many variables – you pile that on to a personal life with a working husband and three adolescent children and all their interests, responsibilities and school-life… let’s just say every day is an adventure!
What I’ve learned over the last few years is that work-life balance looks different for everyone and can change from day-to-day. For me, work-life balance is not 9-5. I may have to put in a few extra hours to meet a deadline or attend an event that is important to me, my clients, or my company, but hopefully when that school performance pops-up in the middle of the day, or a doctor’s appointment is needed, I can take the time desired to focus on my family and the personal side of my life. Sometimes this means I put in some extra time after the kids go to bed, or on the weekends, so if you ever see an email from me late in the evening that may be just the reason!
Many articles talk about work-place stress being a big motivator for finding work-life balance, but what about personal stress? There are plenty of times that I can’t wait to get to work and pour myself into a project to task just to take my mind off that side of my life. Regardless, there is stress on both sides and I appreciate having both as an outlet to focus on when appropriate. One particular benefit that I have found very useful in the past, regardless of whether the issue was personal or work related, is an Employee Assistance Program, commonly referred to as an EAP. Many employers offer an EAP as part of their benefits package, usually in conjunction with an employer-sponsored life or disability plan, your major medical plan or in some cases employers offer this benefit all by itself.
An EAP is there to help you with work or personal issues, referral services, usually unlimited telephonic counseling and in most cases referrals to local providers if you need some face-to-face time. Most EAP’s offer services that focus on stress, work-place issues, family dilemmas, financial concerns, elder parent worries, legal guidance, will & trust services, etc. If you don’t know if your employer offers an EAP, please contact your HR Department. EAP services are typically free and confidential. In the market for a new job or career? Ask the prospective employer how they view work-life balance and how they help their employees achieve this. All I can say is thank goodness for friends and family because the saying is true, it really does take a village to raise a child! I am so very thankful for a supportive work environment, colleagues, friends and family as I work towards maintaining my own work-life balance and I wish you the best on your own journey as well.
For more information on obtaining an EAP for your organization, please contact our office.