The Work-Life Balancing Act

I once had a 9 to 5 job in the oil and gas sector. Every day I wore a suit and tie. I drove a company Jeep. As the manager of the GIS 0ffice I hired, fired, mentored, managed and lead. At that time I thought I loved that job. Deep down, you know what? I think I hated that job.

Why? Because my 9 to 5 was not 9 to 5. I was expected to work 75 hours a week. My staff were expected to work at least 60 hours a week. Before being brought on board, staff turnover was 100% every month. I observed the staff not as employees but as people. People need certain things to feel appreciated and want to stay on board. So I got them what they wanted – sometimes I couldn’t get them everything they wanted but I did get them what they needed.

People were happier. The staff turnover stopped. People stayed ergo the employees remained. Staff started to ask to work those extra hours.  So everyone was happy — the end, right?

No, this was most definitely not the end. I was not a happy camper. I was still working 75 hours a week. My spouse was thousands of kilometers away in our house in Florida. I couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee that was not franchised. My work life balance was still out of kilter.

Once I saw that I had a problem, what could I do? Nothing, apparently because any complaining about your life outside of the office was savagely suppressed by the top executive. Thankfully I have managed to suppress the majority of the worse of those memories but I did walk away from there with more than just a severance check and letters of reference. It was the knowledge of how important work-life balance was.

If your workplace is like mine, you are constantly being barraged with priority changes, usually accompanied by sudden deadlines to meet an impossible set of criteria. Good front line managers usually can help handle the sponsors of these sudden projects. When no manager is able to, or worse is UNWILLING to deal with the sudden influx of last minute projects, stress levels will probably be peaking.

Stay tuned for a future post on how I figured out how to achieve the level of work-life balance that I wanted.

Ken Lee is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He is currently a GIS Officer with the GeoNOVA Secretariat of the Province of Nova Scotia with interests in innovation, leadership, policy, diversity, employee engagement, ITIL and Lean 6 Sigma for government. His next step? Let’s find out! You can read his posts here.

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