Benefits experts have usually focused on the role of management in implementing programs that improve employees’ flexibility in balancing their life and work. However, researchers are now calling on workers to take the primary responsibility for a creating more flexible daily life by making small, shifts in their everyday behavior.
For example, a survey by Cali Williams Yost, author of Tweak It: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day,” found that nearly 75% of employees believe that work-life flexibility is only possible if their employer and/or boss provide it. Adds Brad Harrington, Ph.D., executive director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, “ultimately it’s the individual who must solve this problem, determine their fit, and manage the process of achieving it.
Although more companies are offering flexibility programs and policies that help employees manage such life transitions such as parenthood and illness, Yost and Harrington point out that many workers find it unrealistic to work regularly from home, revise their daily schedule, or use other flexibility options. Even so, they argue, this doesn’t make work-life balance a lost cause.
“Major life events matter,” says Yost, “but it’s the everyday routine we crave and where employees struggle the most with managing work-life fit. Employees themselves need to manage work-life as a daily practice. While this sounds counterintuitive, it starts by thinking small.” She encourages employees to “make small, consistent changes in how, when and where they manage their work and their lives… taking actions that over time build the foundation for a successful work-life fit that transforms their performance on and off the job.”
That’s sound advice to share with your workers.