The Work-life Balance vs. Work-life Integration Debate – Part 2

b loehr - integration

Which do you strive for – a work-life balance with distinct boundaries between work and life OR work-life integration that purposefully melds it all together?

Were it possible to create a perfect equation of work and personal time – and sustain it – then work-life balance would get the nod.  Achieving a hardline separation, while doing justice to both, is indeed a worthy goal, but it’s also a tall, tall order. And maintaining that clear line for the long run? Next to impossible.

Employees long for happiness and contentment on both fronts. Why wouldn’t they? And employers desire the same for their workers because a satisfied, engaged workforce will get the job done right.

It seems any strategy designed to better the lives of management and staffers alike will pay dividends. After all, work takes up a chunk of our lives. A Harvard study found that 94 percent of people work more than 50 hours a week with almost half of them putting in more than 65 hours a week.

Although the work-life balance theory still pops up in headlines and water cooler discussions, other concepts are entering the conversation. Things like greater flexibility, energy management, and fulfillment. Because the ability to lead inspired, engaged lives across all facets – work, family, personal well-being – is the true goal.

David DeWolf shares a real-life, hands-on experience that exemplifies the essence of work-life integration.

“Last school year, I brought my three oldest kids (8, 7, and 5 at the time) to the office to experience what Daddy does every day. I made them dress appropriately, bring their school work and work diligently. I taught them how to interact with professionals and  . . . That’s not balance –  that’s integration!”

It’s no surprise that the most innovative companies have catapulted far above the idea of balance to allow the necessary options their engaged, industrious workers need to mesh work and life in a plan that fits their individual lives. The employee has some input as to when/where their tasks are accomplished – providing appropriate deadlines are met. The bottom line is that the job gets done.

Not such a novel concept considering the results of a time diary study of 1001 days in the lives of high-earning women and their families. A full 75 percent of the time, logs showed personal situations – family, school, health related and the like – happening during traditional work hours. On the flip-side, 77 percent revealed work outside the normal workday – making calls after their kids went to bed, writing reports on weekends.

Are late night calls or Saturday afternoons at the computer ideal? Probably not but if it gets mom and dad home for dinner with the kids, homework and bath time, it’s not such a bad trade-off. The only possible way some parents can work and tend to their family is to find a job that embraces work-life integration.

  1. Loehr Staffing understands the demands of life and family facing today’s workforce. We also appreciate how much our client companies need a qualified, productive workforce. Our staffing specialists work hard to provide top quality service, innovative solutions, and the perfect client /candidate match every time. Contact us today.

The “Work-life Balance” vs. “Work-life Integration” Debate – Part I

The once hot topic of “work-life balance” is losing support in favor of a theory that doesn’t sound all that different but is claimed to be not only better but more attainable.

The newer-kid-on-the-work/life/balance-block is work-life integration.

What are these two theories and how do they differ?

Kelsie Davis provides these basic definitions of each philosophy:

Work-life balance suggests “employees shouldn’t be entirely consumed by work responsibilities.  Companies who advocate balance “are more likely to have generous, but still defined, vacation policies” and “encourage employees to work a pretty normal schedule (9-5ish) with a little flexibility. They also discourage workaholics.” Companies support an approach that’s more of a “hard, defined line between work and life designed to keep one from encroaching on the other.”

Work-life integration suggests an incorporation of “work and life into one conglomerate, fulfilling purpose…” Supporting companies are likely to have an undefined vacation policy with the understanding that employees won’t abuse it. They are “more likely to have a ‘just get the job done’ attitude . . . not caring in which hours the work is getting done . . . creating a more blurred line between work and life (but ideally, employees don’t become overwhelmed by work or too consumed by life).”

As one would expect, each philosophy has it advocates and nay-sayers.

Team work-life balance maintains:

 People need a definite end to the work day.

  • This hard line protects them from being always “on call”.
  • Defined hours provide accountability.

Team work-life integration claims:

  • Allowing people to work when and where it best suits them is preferable.
  • Taking full advantage of the flexibility afforded by technology is a win-win situation—even at 10 pm.
  • People can “manage” themselves and be trusted to get the job done.

The advancements in technology have progressed to where being “always on” and “always connected” are considered the norm. Therefore, it’s easy to see how a hard line between work and life has become much more difficult to maintain and to some employees, is now seen as less desirable.

In today’s world and across many employment scenarios, life and work surely have meshed—a situation that more closely relates to “integration” than it does to the idea of “balance.”

While for some, the idea of after-hours work is at best unpleasant, at worst unthinkable, others see it as somewhere between a solution to a hectic schedule and the best possible scenario.

Personal preferences aside, work-life integration continues to gain traction as a more viable way to attain both the career achievements and the family/leisure life most people desire. In the next installment, we’ll delve further into the pros, cons and specifics that distinguish the two theories.

Loehr Staffing can offer you a career that fits the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. We also offer a highly-competitive pay package along with a benefit program that includes portable medical insurance, a referral program, and skills enhancement training. Contact us today.


Economic Growth Causes Retention Crisis

b loehr - recruit retainIt’s a good news, bad news situation.
The good news: including figures through December 2015, the U.S. has experienced 69 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Yay!

The bad news: this trend, a major reversal from the financial crisis and recession period of 2007 to 2009, has created recruiting and retention challenges and even talent shortages in some areas of the workforce. Boo.

“It’s the No. 1 issue for H.R. professionals,” according to Chason Hecht, president of Retensa, an employee retention consulting firm. Hecht notes the problem is “pervasive across industries, but some are hit harder than others — like health care,” a sector scrambling to meet the demands of an aging population.

As the economy improves, and job options flourish, it causes employers concern about retaining their most valuable asset – a productive workforce.

So, what’s a business to do? Begin addressing the situation by grasping how the employee’s view of the entire employment picture has changed.

Past generations considered a lifetime position with one company the desired goal. A worker was likely to be content with whatever pay and benefits were offered because job security topped the list of employment aspirations.

Younger generations no longer hold to this way of thinking, a fact proven by how employees “shop” for jobs every few years in the same fashion they “shop” for a new car. The Internet has opened a plethora of doors to anyone seeking a job or simply checking in on “what’s out there.” There are more ways than ever before to “shop around” your skill set and qualifications.

Money still talks, but engagement often talks just as loudly. While a pay increase may head off an immediate departure, job engagement is where it’s at. Many employees will stick around – some even for less pay – if they truly love the position, feel valued by the company and believe they are an integral part of the “bigger picture.”

On the other hand, retirement concerns have begub to take center stage as traditional pensions have all but disappeared. For today’s employees, retirement confidence is strongly tied to their access to a retirement plan whether it be a defined contribution (DC) plan, a defined benefit (DB) plan, or an individual retirement account (IRA). The portability of 401(k)s are an added incentive to change jobs should the right opportunity present itself.

Communication and transparency are also keys to retaining employees. Workers want to know how the company is doing and receive explanations concerning the how and why of financial decisions that affect them and their pay. Being left in the dark suggests they are valued less to the company and will nudge them toward the door.

Considering all these factors, strategize with your management team about specific ways the company can actively seek to retain the trained workforce you’ve worked hard to assemble.

B. Loehr Staffing recognizes how the rapidly changing business environment can force quick, significant shifts in workforce requirements, and we offer a reliable resource to meet those needs. We will communicate clearly, frequently and honestly concerning your hiring needs. Contact us today.

Nurturing Your Employees Critical Thinking Skills

b loehr - critical thinkingFrom A to Z on your roster, every employee needs the ability to make decisions, use available resources effectively and to problem solve. Knowing when and how to ask the right questions, whether you’re the custodian or the CEO, is of tremendous value. This aptitude for “thinking on your feet” assists anyone and everyone in performing his/her duties and greatly benefits the overall success of the company.

But unlike technical qualifications that can be tested and confirmed, these critical thinking skills often have to be observed in action. Which may be why although Employee XYZ, whose education and training are second to none, hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Oh, he’s a good guy and all, but he’s lacking in initiative and can’t seem to think outside of narrow parameters.

While some people’s natural abilities fuel these critical thinking skills, others less inclined can still learn to utilize the variety of components that make up what we’ve come to describe as critical thinking skills.

You can assist your employees in developing these needed qualities and in making their usage a habit.

Get them thinking

Consider implementing something similar to the “bell ringer” concept utilized in many school classrooms across the country that encourages students to get their thought processes flowing the moment the bell rings for class to begin. In a central location, on paper or a whiteboard, present a problem/dilemma/opportunity that encourages individual brainstorming to find a solution. It can be something as simple as solving the traffic flow pattern to and from the supply closet. Or something as major as brainstorming themes for the next marketing campaign. The idea is to get everyone to think logically, to ask questions and to share ideas.

Encourage discussion and debate

Bring those individual ideas to a group setting to be hashed out. Foster an atmosphere that is accepting, even encouraging, of any constructive suggestions. Encourage the exploration of different points of view. Assist your employees in recognizing their biases and help them to view a situation from all perspectives. Settings that encourage creativity and “thinking outside the box” will reap a harvest of engaged, motivated workers who, when faced with a serious dilemma, will have the skills needed to find a solution.

 Make it okay to be wrong

It’s crucial to nurture an atmosphere that discourages the blame game. Seriously, how ridiculous it is to hear grown men and women engage in the Kindergarten ritual of blaming.

  • “It was his idea.”
  • “But you didn’t do your part.”
  • “The whole idea was stupid.”
  • “I can’t help it if my concept went over your head.”

All ideas are valuable. Not every idea is feasible. That’s okay. That where critical thinking enters, to weed out the suggestions that won’t translate into a feasible solution.

At B. Loehr Staffing we utilize critical thinking to find the best candidates to meet your staffing needs. By asking the right questions and thinking through logical solutions, we can meet your Flexible, Planned and Facility Staffing requirements. Contact us today. Discover how our technical and critical thinking skills have made us the staffing company that successful companies have relied on since 1898.