A national conversation around the issue of work-life balance has really taken root lately, and it has everyone talking about what can be done to better things moving forward. However, when we think about work-life balance, we should be mindful that it’s an important issue for all adults – not just women. Here are some things to think about.
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1. Both men and women want to balance the responsibilities of work and family.
A study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of working mothers said it was very or somewhat difficult to balance jobs and families, and 50 percent of working fathers concurred.
Both men and women long for better work-life balance, but the conversation seems to be hinging more around how women are processing the problem. This isn’t only unfair and incorrect, it’s less productive.
2. Misunderstanding the problem will delay a solution.
The framing of work-life balance concerns as a women’s issue neglects the struggle men are enduring, and it continues to drive a wedge where it doesn’t belong.
“As a result, both business and people aren’t reaping the rewards of a more thoughtful, deliberate, strategic approach to managing work and life.” said Cali Yost, CEO and founder of Flex+Stragegy Group/Work+Life Fit Inc. “The significance of the research is that it proves that the way we think and talk about work-life flexibility doesn’t track with reality.”
3. As men feel more comfortable expressing their work-life balance concerns, the situation will improve.
A recent study by Erin Reid, assistant professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of business, found that men and women employ different methods when trying to find better balance in their lives. For a host of reasons, men are more likely than women to lie in order to work less and be with family more. If men felt more comfortable being open about their need for work-life balance, the situation would be better understood and could progress more quickly.
4. Men’s work-life balance has a huge impact on women’s lives.
When men give more time (and more of themselves) to family, they’re happier, and more successful at work. Additionally, their commitment helps the women in their lives find better balance.
Even though things are more equitable on the home front these days, moms are still more likely to stay home when the kids are sick, do more to care for the home, family members, etc. If men are able to give more of themselves to their personal lives, women will have greater flexibility as well.
The bottom line is that work-life balance isn’t a woman’s issue. Maybe, there’s no such thing. Both men and women crave a balanced life, and how close they come to achieving that goal has consequences that stretch far beyond the individual.
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