Work-Life Balance? Bah Humbug!

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A Carol of Control & Productivity, Part 1

‘Tis the season of jolly carols and twinkling lights. The mood of merriment is in full swing, our calendars marked by various events and get-togethers. We have that school play on Wednesday—but there’s that project due by Thursday morning! We still need to put up lights and finish shopping–but we have those back-to-back meetings all day!

It isn’t uncommon for the holiday season to pull us in these multiple directions, leading to a clash between personal and professional lives. Despite numerous studies and reports bemoaning the tragedies of burnout and workaholism, the world of work is still rife with the bah humbugs of those jingling the hazardous bells of toxic productivity. The continued prevalence of work-life imbalance is perhaps most visible with the drama that befell Twitter this year, as depicted here.

The argument against treating our teams as miserly Ebenezer Scrooge did poor Bob Cratchit isn’t new. In 2018, the Guardian detailed the woes of workaholism and the felicity of family time in this piece. There are myriad holiday season films conveying this same message—such as Spielberg’s Hook or Schwarzenegger’s Jingle All the Way.

In such films, we typically dive into the well-known story of a protagonist torn between the demands of work and the needs of family. By now we are fully aware of the snowstorm that follows a culture of burnout and imbalance. Employees begin to look for escape, searching for opportunities elsewhere, as evidenced by the Great Reshuffle. If such an escape isn’t readily available, we know that employees will adopt methods such as quiet quitting to curb the metastasization of burnout.

We also know that happiness yields productivity. In this video the Wall Street Journal and consulting firm Robert Half discuss research on what makes employees happy. Like with the rising popularity of flexible offices, it all stems from the gift of control. Lack of control in our daily lives—including professional lives—is the sharp slope towards unhappiness.

It turns out that not many employees are willing to suffer the abusive antics of an Ebenezer Scrooge, as vividly illustrated by recent workplace revolutions stemming from the Great Reshuffle.

Our teams deserve better than to be treated like Bob Cratchit, and it’s up to us as leaders to realize that truth without a visit from epiphany-wielding ghosts.

“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”
– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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