Work life balance

As a quick side note, yesterday was the 8-year anniversary of this blog. Woohoo! 601 posts later, I’m still here. This blog was a life saver on many many days. Mostly fellow bloggers and blog followers were a life saver to me, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now, back to writing…

What is work-life balance? Quoted from a Business News Daily article earlier this year (https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5244-improve-work-life-balance-today.html), the author defines or characterizes it as: “work-life balance is the state of equilibrium where a person equally prioritizes the demands of one’s career and the demands of one’s personal life.” She goes on to name a few common reasons that lead to a poor work-life balance: Increased responsibilities at work, working longer hours, increased responsibilities at home, and having children.

In my opinion, the article is a good one. Informative and fair. I’ve found myself going back to saying “in my opinion” a lot lately. Years ago that was asked of me by one of our couple’s therapists. I mean seriously? Don’t we all assume that when someone says something it is in their own opinion. Sure, it might be backed by years of experience or knowledge, or backed by nothing at all, but of course it is our opinion. The therapist said I was so dominant in the relationship (haha Blue Eyes is a great manipulator) and that Blue Eyes had been so beaten down as a child and felt helpless, emasculated, powerless, that she wanted me to preface EVERYTHING I said in therapy with, “in my opinion.” I’ve written a lot here about Blue Eyes and his wounds and all our therapy, and on and on. So, what about me? After everything Blue Eyes did to sabotage our relationship and honestly, hurt me to my core, what about me?

As a child I was a pleaser, a care taker, quiet and well behaved. I did whatever I was told without complaint. I took care of my many many siblings whenever I was asked. Coming from divorced parents in the 70’s, I missed out on a lot due to the back and forth every other weekend, holiday, etc… I never complained. My parents moved around a lot. I went from school to school, making friends, but never really good friends because I had no idea how long we would be at that house, in that neighborhood, at that school. I’ve also learned over the years, unfortunately, that sometimes friends betray you. Don’t get too close. Blue Eyes was the one I let get close. Look where that got me.

So here we are today, me fighting to keep my sanity through it all, wanting nothing more than to not have to work so hard to achieve other people’s work life balance… I want to write, and paint, and travel, and read and the list goes on, but running a company is nothing like being a regular employee. I don’t want to have to answer to anyone, about anything. But life doesn’t work that way. Our business is Blue Eyes’ business. It’s his expertise, his passion. I’m there because Blue Eyes is a great salesman, and loves people, and his work, but couldn’t run a business to save his life. He’s horrible at training and managing people. It’s just a fact, and not even just in my opinion. We’ve both worked our asses off for, forever, since we’ve known each other, and me long before that. I’ve worked since I was 14 years old. I worked my way through university. I worked up until the days our kids were born, and right after they were born. A week after The Peacemaker was delivered, by C-section, I lugged him into work in his car seat and sat him next to me, and worked! Blue Eyes was working for a Japanese company and had no vacation left that year. We had a mortgage and two car payments and daycare for The Pragmatist. This is just regular life. I know people have had it worse than us, but certainly not any of our employees. My brother asked for 6 weeks paternity leave. I gave him two even though at the time he had four weeks vacation, which he had already used. My point is though, that we have struggled and it was part of our journey. I don’t expect everyone to have to go through what we went through, but work life balance shouldn’t mean the company (our company) should go under on the whim of spoiled employees.

Now we have a business that is for the most part profitable. We had a very bad year last year and we’re making the necessary changes to correct it. We need to be profitable in order to have retirement on the horizon for either of us. Since I’m in charge of Human Resources and operations, I have a lot of decisions to make. Covid has changed the workplace, a lot. Some people are dying to work from our beautiful office space (mostly new employees), and some don’t want to come in at all (established employees). When two employees abruptly left us this past spring, it was quite obvious that the two of them were actually doing the job of maybe one half time person, and the rest of their job was being outsourced to contractors. They were able to do this because no one was really watching “the store” so to speak. I was off in Ojai buying a house (one of my many passions) and the brother I left in charge, was failing, miserably. Blue Eyes was very distracted with a new venture, and well, it was a recipe for disaster.

Fast forward to today and we have new employees being trained and business is looking great. I’m still in negotiations with the brother we let go. He didn’t like what we offered him in our separation letter even though he brought this all on himself and the consequences are his to bear. Legally we don’t owe him anything. But of course we do want to be fair. He’s scared to be out looking for a job after 16 years. The biggest disappointment to me was when he asked for this leave of absence he is on that he did it in such a distasteful way. He brought the year up, as he says, that Blue Eyes had a breakdown and didn’t work for like, a year. Well, that was 2014, when a woman called my mobile phone to tell me she had been in a long term affair with my husband and he had taken her all over the world. It was the worst year of my life and both Blue Eyes and I went through hell and a boat load of therapy and sure, Blue Eyes went from working 16 hours a day (part of his multiple addictions) to working maybe two. How dare my brother, someone I thought understood, use that as his example of why he should take a leave of absence.

In our “talks” about him wanting more from us, my brother brought up how part of his stress came from dealing with employees and trying to get them a proper “work life balance.” I actually never have a work conversation with him when he doesn’t bring up this ominous work life balance concept. He basically gave these employees a place to go and bitch and complain about their jobs, on the daily. I am the Human Resources manager, and was always available by phone (and most of our employees were still working from home anyway), so why he did this still frustrates me. I’m not sure what his real motive was, but these employees have since, thankfully, moved on, and my brother will too. I’m still hearing the work life balance phrase being tossed around though and I frankly don’t get it. I have talked with each and every one of our employees about what their needs are. We have great vacation/sick leave/holiday policies, far above the average American company. But people still complain. Bad habits. Employees can work from home if they need. We don’t expect any of them, even Managing Directors (our highest position) to work more than a 40 hour work week, regardless of what Blue Eyes does. We have employees who attend school events for their children in the middle of the work week/day. We have employees who play pickle ball on their 2 hour lunches. One of our managing directors just lost a relative he was very close to. He took a full week off to be with relatives in Atlanta. Whatever it takes so that when he comes back, his attention is on work. We are actually very fair and understand work life balance, even if Blue Eyes’ work life balance looks very different from anyone else’s.

I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of unhappy people out there, covid and the general state of the world hasn’t helped, and blaming their job in the name of work life balance is just a thing. I know I’m looking at if from the opposite perspective as most people and I do my best to try and understand, but I’m about fed up with it. If people are unhappy with their job, I wish they would just leave versus sabotage our company.

There is one thing from the above article that I am going to reiterate with Blue Eyes, however, when he returns from his work trip to Japan, and that is SET A GOOD EXAMPLE:

“Your employees follow your lead. If you send emails at all hours of the day and night or work hard on the weekends, your staff thinks that is what is expected of them, too.”

Kat bitch session, over and out.

5 thoughts on “Work life balance

  1. Work-life balance can truly mean different things to different people. Sometimes, it’s just a phrase to entice workers to apply for a job. That phrase was in a job ad my husband applied for (and got) many years ago. That was his last job before he almost died from his own hand. You know how words don’t mean anything and actions do? Actions of the “work-life balance” employer — schedule a doc 17 out of 18 days, all different shifts, with no regular sleep schedule. (That’s just one example, and there are 1000s.) I still harbor a great deal of resentment for that group b/c it was a big factor in what drove my husband’s mental health breakdown. 20 years of lack of sleep and constant life/death in the job can do that to a human. I was the one left holding the bag and dragging him out of the car when he almost ended his life. His employer wasn’t there, but wanted to know if I thought his job contributed to his attempt – yes – fishing to see if I was going to sue? I instantly responded “no” but I knew better. I’m a pleaser, too. Hub’s prostitutes weren’t there either. It all fell on me and I’m not the same.

    As far as myself and work-life balance – well – now I am retired and the scale is leaning toward life. I work a bit for “free” – volunteering in adult literacy. But back when hub was doing all those shifts? I CHOSE to work 3 jobs b/c he was never around. So, I created a situation of not having work-life balance for myself. It became unsustainable, so I left the school job which I kept getting sick from (lung infections – airborne viruses).

    I don’t think there’s one answer for work-life balance which fits everyone, which certainly makes it challenging for for the employer and the employee.

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  2. I think you hit the nail on the head about leadership. I’ve worked for bosses who pitched “family friendly” and “balance” and who then emailed and called at all hours of the day and night and weekends and who essentially made it impossible to take the very generous vacation that seemed to exist only on paper. If I get work calls at 8 or 9PM, or emails from my boss regardless of the hour, I’m not going to feel bad about a 2 hour lunch.

    That said, I’ve also managed 50+ lawyers and staff and I’ve seen how a certain few employees can turn into institutional terrorists. These are the folks whose sole mission seems to be to game the system to their advantage, even to the detriment of their colleagues and employer. I think it ties to an overall work ethic. Some people have it and others just exist in a perpetual state of entitlement. Hopefully you’ve weeded out those folks as much as possible. I don’t envy you the HR role. It’s a very necessary but utterly thankless position.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get it regarding the workaholic bosses and BE is certainly one of those. No matter how many times I tell employees they don’t need to and shouldn’t respond to him on eves and weekends, BE is a compelling person and they do ultimately feel like they should be working like he works. It’s not healthy though and I try and try to convince them this is one of BE’s problems. But they want to believe they are so important in his eyes. Sometimes it feels like psychological warfare and also shows how convincing he was with the acting out partners and their belief that they were important to him and giving him something really special that he couldn’t get elsewhere, which I guess in a way is true. Unfortunately they were feeding drugs to an addict, but again, sex means something altogether different for many people, especially women. If he desires me, he must love me, right? Wrong!

      Exactly right on the 2 hour lunch… I don’t care how or when our employees work as long as they are available for important meetings and they get their work done. We actually have a VERY flexible work environment. BE actually hates it as he is programmed differently. The employees who left were actually not the ones who were getting phone calls in the evening or working weekends. You are right, there are certain types of people who, and I quote you: “exist in a perpetual state of entitlement.” Love it. That says it all. I don’t love my HR roll, but it is difficult enough with me doing it. I can’t imagine the fallout if anyone else in our company had been doing it. One of these days though, I am going to give it up for good. Today is, however, not that day. 😦
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

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