Work to live not live to work

Work Life balance seems to be coming up a lot this week. It is always a hot topic but lately I have felt that we are slipping in our drive to achieve it.

Why is it that we all find it so hard to make room for having a life. Personally I find in the business / corporate world it is almost like a weakness. So many employees in large companies wear there long working hours like a badge of honour. In my previous role as the Marketing Director of a large multinational, it was expected, particularly once we all got ‘crackberrys’, that we would answer our phones and emails all the time regardless of it was late at night or on the weekends. Worst of all we did. I remember being on holidays in New York and instead of looking at the sights when on a tourist bus I was checking the blackberry.

It is obviously a constant challenge. One that I as a working mum struggle with on a daily basis. In fact one of the reasons Blaze Marketing came about was because I found it near impossible as a Marketing Director / CMO, to have a child. With constant travel and working long hours including being on standby 24/7 for PR crisis management etc I barely saw my husband and there was certainly no room for a little person in there.

Since leaving the corporate world, I find that I still work just as hard on my client’s marketing and helping their businesses get ahead but I am not as tired and burnt out. I’m healthier, my ideas are fresher and more creative, my strategic thinking is more cut through and my passion for my job is greater. Rather than, as many corporate executive think, since having a child I believe I bring more to the table rather than less.

With this in mind we employee a lot of Mum’s and others that need flexible work environments at Blaze Marketing. Personally I find it great for the employees but also great for business. In particularly I love employing Mums or Dad’s. I find that we get really senior talented experienced people that you might actually have trouble getting in a full time job. They are always really efficient, energetic and passionate. They really put a lot into their work because they are often working for the work and stimulation itself not just the money. They answer their phones and help clients even on a day when they are not working and because everyone is flexible if a rush job needs to happen for a client over the weekend it does. However, during the week they then get a break to re-group, have a break and spend time with their families. They are fantastic contributors to Blaze Marketing and always go above and beyond for our clients.

I find it interesting therefore that there is still so many companies that are not really offering flexible working hours or other life friendly benefits. I believe it is still seen in many quarters as being a weakness to have a family / a life. Work comes before everything. Everyone talks the talk but very few companies walk the walk.

In the US there is a leader board that comes out each year called the ‘Working Mother’s Best Companies List’. It has been around for over 25 years and many of the world’s top companies strive to be on it. It turns the hiring process on its head and allows working mum’s to see which companies are the best employers for family friendly benefits. It looks at their policies for maternity leave, flexible work, flextime, elder care and other work-life benefits.

I think it is a great initiative and hope that it really starts to make a change in our corporate culture. You can read more about it and find out the 2010 Working Mother’s Best Company List here

I hope with all this attention on work life balance we can all start to get a bit better at it. As employers that we start to include it in our company strategies and planning (in the long term I believe you will find it helps the bottom line rather than hinders it). As employees I hope we start to prioritise better and leave the non-urgent job that can wait till the next day until the next day.

So as well as working hard make sure you play hard. Go home and have a life. You’ll come back tomorrow fresher and better than ever.


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