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Work-Life Balance – A Very Personal Choice

This post was written by Caroline Parisy, Human Resource Manager, iCrossing

By definition, “work-life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work. It is achieved when an individual’s right to a fulfilled life inside and outside paid work is accepted and respected as the norm, to the mutual benefit of the individual, business and society.

However, putting barriers between work and play is like asking someone if they work to live or live to work. Individuals and organisations shall walk away from this old fashioned concept.

As asked by Chief Happiness Officer, Alexander Kjeruf, last month… What distinctions do you make between your job and your leisure, your mind and your body, your education and your recreation, your colleagues and your friends? Very little, if none for some. We’re all working towards achieving everything we want, whether it is completing an MBA for personal intellectual satisfaction, getting that very well paid job or ensuring our children will grow into honest and independent human beings. Work, life and play are not to be separated, each achievement supports and facilitates another. The real skill is not letting one take over another.


When can you say that work has taken over your life?

No boundaries should be defined as we all have different needs and take pleasures from different acts and behaviours. Some will enjoy working no more than the weekly 9 to 5, while others will get their satisfaction from working both days and nights. It doesn’t make us lazy workers or bad parents as long as we enjoy what we do.

So work-life balance should really be called work-life “integration”. Not necessarily equalising work and life but choosing the most satisfying stability for us as a unique individual.

The success of work-life integration remains in having the choice as an individual, employee, business and organisation. The choice to manage and integrate work and life harmoniously, without a notion of measure but of self-control.

What can organisations do to support work-life integration? As an employer, you could offer that choice and develop a sense of enjoyment within the organisation by implementing the following initiatives:

  • flexible working policies (but also not discouraging people to work late should they want to)
  • a fully circular communication system where everyone has a voice in the business’s decision making process
  • a management style which tolerates failure, challenges individuals to reach their full potential and recognises them for their efforts
  • a consistent training programme promoting knowledge sharing
  • a variety of tasks which support personal development and broaden individuals’ career horizons
  • ethical and environmentally friendly values

You will have transformed the workplace into an adult playground, where people work hard and play hard, because having fun and being happy is as essential at work as it is in our life.

As an employee, you must choose your attitude, choose the way you work and how you do it. Personal fulfilment within professional achievement will be the key to the right work integration into your life.

The business’s benefits from a good work-life integration will be immediately financially measurable by an increase in productivity, improved recruitment and retention, a lower rate of absenteeism, reduced overheads, an improved customer service and finally a more motivated, satisfied and equitable workforce.

Quotes, Inspirations and Recommended Readings

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results (by Stephen C Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen)

The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun

Happy Hour is 9 to 5 - How to love your job, love your life and kick butt at work (by Chief Happiness Officer, Alexander Kjeruf)

Further Information

The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development Employers for Work-life Balance website The Inland Revenue website

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