What’s Up with Work-life Balance? Considering new ways of living well.
Published by: WCET | 5/18/2023
Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness month?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the U.S. has observed this since 1949. The month is a focused “national movement to raise awareness about mental health.” You can learn more about the movement on the Mental Health Awareness Month website. Mental Health and wellness impacts us all in many ways, both personally and professionally.
When you think about personal or professional wellness, what enters your mind?
Here are some of the words that pop into my head:
I have been thinking about this a lot over the past few years. As I’m sure you remember, the COVID-19 pandemic changed our world in many (many!) ways. One of the bigger ways – a new focus on work and life-balance and wellness.
Where will this focus take us? Can we orient toward a professional environment that prioritizes the mental and physical health and well-being of staff but also ensures we meet our productivity goals? I believe we can. And, apparently, so do many of our colleagues in the WCET and higher education community.
That’s why WCET selected the topic of Leadership and Wellness for the month of May. To me, having strong, adaptable, and resilient team members means we accomplish some amazing work in our planned timeframes. However, without healthy team members, deadlines are missed, or mistakes are made.
Cindi Fukami, a professor in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, has said that the need for work-life balance isn’t new.
But COVID “accelerated this trend and the conflict between work and life demands was front and center.”
The U.S., unfortunately, seems to outpace other nations in hours worked per week and employees have less vacation time and fewer benefits for working parents.
Fukami advised that people just want a “productive life along with a productive work life” (Ballard, 2022).
The Great Resignation highlighted a voluntary and mass exodus of workers associated with the pandemic, yes, but there are deeper issues at play. Studies suggest that the trend of leaving jobs that didn’t offer exactly what employees want out of their work and their life, was happening before the pandemic. COVID just pushed it over the edge a bit.
Lack of benefits are often cited as reasons people quit a job. These can include:
Simone Phipps, professor of management at Middle Georgia State University, offers that employers must focus on employee wellbeing and listen to what their staff tell them they need. By modeling wellness, boundary setting, and balance as a leader, team members begin to adopt these healthy behaviors. In turn, they become more productive, more creative, and more collaborative. I love that Dr. Phipps and others have said that we all need to focus on our “shared humanity” when it comes to navigating this new way of living.
As I said, our theme this month is Leadership and Wellness.
To help you consider your own personal wellness and the wellness of your team (whether you are in a leadership position or just want to help role model wellbeing in the workplace for your peers), WCET will offer resources and events in this topic area.
We hope you’ll join us in honoring May as Mental Health Awareness month by learning new ways to focus on your own well-being and perhaps help your colleagues as well.
Ballard, Janette. (2022). From Pandemic to Endemic: The Future of Work-Life Balance. University of Denver News. Retrieved from https://www.du.edu/news/pandemic-endemic-future-work-life-balance
Phipps, Simone. (2022). What Exactly Is “The Great Resignation?” Middle Georgia State University. Retrieved from https://www.mga.edu/news/2022/04/what-is-the-great-resignation.php