Restore your sanity: how Gen X and Y need to step up on work/life balance

Posted November 2, 2010 in Latest News & Insights

Stress kills us.  Employee absences cost companies millions of dollars.  Many mid-level/mid-career leaders are on a fast track to burn out.  This all according to a recent series in the Globe and Mail.  My personal response is: this conversation is so 1999.  Seriously, we’ve been talking about work/life balance (or rather lack of it) for years.  So, my question to all of us leaders out there: what are we going to do about it?

It’s pretty safe to say that most 20 to early 40 somethings (aka the Gen X and Y cohorts) have little desire to be the 80 hour a week grinders that our baby boomer friends were sucked into becoming.

But, here’s the thing: with more boomers beginning their slow exit from the workplace, I started to wonder if my cohort would step up and actually make some things change.  Or, once Gen X’s and Y’s get to the influence table, will we succumb to the status quo and continue to grind people out like our predecessors?

Taking a page from John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity”, I’d like to propose a “Restore your sanity” movement for Gen X & Y leaders when it comes to challenging some of the “norms” we have about business (ie: 60 hour work weeks are o.k.; you need to sit at a desk between 9 and 5 to be productive; vacation days need to be monitored, etc.).

It’s time to get creative.  The industrial age is long gone and yet we continue to embrace leadership processes designed for job structures that are stuck in the 1950’s.

What are you doing to challenge your mindsets about work / life balance?  How high are you forcing the bar for yourself? For those around you?  Is it higher than necessary?  If your team is “work hard/play hard” without the play part, what are you doing to bring in some breathing room?

As leaders (no matter the level), we can create a better place to work because making things better is what leaders do.  So, let’s all stop complaining about work/life balance and start looking for things that we can do to enable it. 

Happy leading!


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