Work-Life Balance

Tough choices

Does it have to be an either/or? (via Mat)

Marketplace aired a really interesting segment last week about the effects of the Chinese New Year on American businesses. The festivities for Chinese New Year last a couple of weeks on the mainland. But the fallout for American businesses, who outsource a lot of production and manufacturing to China, can last months. Supply pipelines get backed up for up to two months and employee turnover is high, with some employees simply never coming back. The segment – which we highly encourage you to listen to – ends with Marketplace’s Lizzie O’Leary and American CEO Scott Ellyson of East West Manufacturing wondering if the situation will:

  • remain unchanged, with American companies working with Chinese tradition even though it makes a significant financial dent in bottom lines
  • going the American way where we may go slow or work through the holidays but certainly never shut down completely
  • or some combination in between.

Happy medium? (via Dan4th Nicholas)

Ellyson seems to think the answer is a combination in between. And we support that. Here’s why.

We’re a sufficiently American enough company that the idea of going completely radio silent for two weeks – with a ripple effect that could potentially last months! – seems unacceptably bad for business. But we’re also not wild about an economy where no one ever gets a break. It isn’t healthy. And the bottom line, while important, isn’t helped by a downward spiral of working people and companies to the point of burnout.

Work Like Effectiveness

File under “NOT a desirable way to live.” (via Mike Kline)

Everyone at Advanse has families, friendships, lives rich with creative purpose and pursuits outside the office. It is why we stress a work-life balance during orientation with our interns, especially those who we think are about to be shocked by the relative lack of built in holidays and vacation in the American economy.

Working late, eating at our desks, never logging off our email, “working vacations” – those are good things that can quickly set a go-getter apart from the rest…..sometimes. But when we’re doing that all the time we pay a heavy price, and so does everyone else in our lives – less time with family and friends, unhealthy meals that we never really stop to savor, no outside interests. We become our jobs. There used to be a reason to do that – retirement, benefits, company and employee loyalty. Although, even then, there was a price to pay in all the everyday events that the job required we miss – birthdays, school plays, weddings, dinners with friends. Today, in an increasingly “gig” economy, there is even less reason to become our jobs.

None of this is to say that those of us with talent, potential, and the ability to work incredibly hard shouldn’t aim for the big jobs. Lean in, if you can. Reach for that big job by all means. But go into it with your eyes open. There is no point to having it all if you have no one to share it with, or are too rushed or sick to actually enjoy any of it. It is not normal to have a work-stress related heart attack in your 40s. That is not, in fact, a sign of success!