Does work-life balance exist?
Today’s article in the Washington Post “White House is ‘the ultimate on-call job’ for workers with children at home” speaks of employees having to suddenly drop what they are doing at home with their families and rush back to the office. Corporate America has been demanding similar short-notice or no-notice “jump-and-run” behavior for multiple decades.
Dedication to one’s job and company is admirable. In fact, an employer has a right to expect an employee to honor their commitment to the company just as the company is expected to honor their commitment to the employee. Only a few decades ago when an employee and a company made an agreement to work together it was expected to be a “until retirement” commitment. Those days are long gone from both the employee and the company standpoint. Job loyalty for the long term has disappeared.
How Much is Appropriate?
How much is too much? When I owned my first company, a full scale bakery in a ski resort, I went to work at 11 pm and worked until 7 pm seven days a week during ski season. Summer was a few less hours and the shoulder seasons in between summer and winter were less. Did I ever ask an employee to work more than an eight hour shift? Never.
When I sold the bakery and started a property management company, there were times when I had to call the maintenance supervisor in to handle an emergency or call housekeeping in to handle an unexpected arrival. These occasions were quite rare and the employee was compensated with overtime. My employees deserved and received consideration; in turn they demonstrated job loyalty and company loyalty.
The question becomes a matter of frequency and offsetting compensation. Job loyalty must not be abused on either side.
My son Dan summed it up quite well, “Mom you can go in early, you can stay late, you can work through lunch and you can bring work home. Try not to do more than one of those per day.” Wise words from a young boy.
Employee status (salary or hourly) is quite a different matter than independent contractor or 100% commission positions. Independent contractors and commission only workers have job loyalty to themselves even more than to the company. If an independent contractor or commission only worker wants to work more hours in order to earn more that is their choice rather than an employer expectation. Independent contractor status means you are in charge of your income. Frequently independent contractors work for more than one employer.
Employers and employees have responsibilities to their families as well as their careers. Where to draw the line has been an ongoing question. Is there a work-life balance? Only if you consider that the pendulum is in constant motion. Whenever possible, take Dan’s advice and try not to do more than one of the “extras” per day.