Sixth Sense: Finding A Work-Life Balance

by Bill Paddack ([email protected]) 248 views 

We live in a fast-paced, get-it-done business environment. That can lead to skipped lunches, late nights and working on weekends, so we asked six business leaders to tell us how they encourage their employees (as well as themselves) to strike an appropriate work-life balance.

Amy Denton
Pediatrics Plus
Little Rock

As a health-care provider, Pediatrics Plus understands that employees with an appropriate work-life balance are healthier and happier and, in turn, better able to support their own families and provide our clients with the best services we have to offer.

Our therapists are able to choose their weekly schedules and change these schedules quarterly depending on what works best for their families. The software program we created significantly reduces the time spent on paperwork and gives our staff the option of completing it off-site or even after-hours. To ensure flexibility for our developmental preschool teachers, we hire full-time floaters and substitutes so teachers can take time off when needed. Staff also receives a discounted child-care rate so they can bring their preschool-aged kids to work with them.

Pediatrics Plus is always focused on family. Every year, we host two or three company-wide events, including Arkansas Travelers’ games, picnics or movie nights for our employees and their families to just have fun.

Jonathan Fry
Home Instead Senior Care
Fort Smith

Yes, it is a very fast-paced, “needed this done 15 minutes ago” kind of business world we now live in. I have over 125 employees – 12 of those work in our office. Earlier this year I adopted the no-limit vacation policy for my directors. I read many articles on the pros/cons of such a program and it all came down to two main points: trust; and, is the employee the right cultural fit in your company.

Those that are passionate about their job won’t feel guilty about taking time off; nor will they abuse the freedom they’ve been given. They are servant leaders; but, they work hard to play hard, as well. For the others in my office, they receive a generous vacation package and I encourage them to use it.

For me, it all boils down to the owner/manager’s mindset. As driven and motivated as I am, I realized early in my professional life that what doesn’t get done today, can always get done tomorrow.

Rachael McCone Davenport
Owner and President
The Footstep Group

I received advice from a mentor that has stayed with me for the past 15 years: “You can have it all; you just can’t have it all at once.” This comment was her answer when I asked how was I going to achieve balance in all of the important roles that I played in life, including mother, wife and leader.

Now, as the owner of my own company and coach to executive leaders, I share that same mentality. I think the idea of striving for work-life balance leads us to something that is not achievable. Rather, I think we need to embrace that we are constantly out of balance, and recognize that the area that requires our focus changes. Sometimes a major project requires your full attention, while other times something at home has to take priority.

The real key is to find the art in the “imbalance,” making sure you are always aware of what matters most at that time and adjusting your time and energy to focus on those priorities.

Phil Baldwin
President & CEO
Citizens Bank

Work-life balance discussions make me uncomfortable. All of a sudden, I am on a tight rope walking over Niagara Falls holding a long wooden pole hoping I don’t sway too far one way and fall. How can I do this right and how can I help others do the same?

I guess in the end I don’t believe in personal checklists or company programs that promote work-life balance. In fact, I believe work-life balance is a feeling not an action.

What each of us seeks is a meaningful life – to be part of something we are proud of – to have a happy and successful family – to look back and say job well done.

Successful companies help employees be successful through an environment of trust and respect. We eliminate the tight rope.

Tamika S. Edwards
Director of Governmental Affairs
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families
Little Rock

As a wife, a mom of two small children, a career woman and a dedicated servant leader, work-life balance is not an option. It is a way of life that I learned from my mother, mentors and other dynamic leaders. From their example, I’ve identified four tools that help me achieve work-life balance: faith, focus, flexibility and forgiveness.

Faith anchors me and provides a reservoir of confidence to face and work through any challenge. Focus helps me prioritize and follow through without letting too many distractions get in the way of progress. Flexibility allows me to shift attention to something else without feeling irritated or guilty. Forgiveness is my pathway to peace. So what if one of today’s 13 tasks isn’t completed? And so what if I didn’t achieve “perfection” in the process? I’ll try again tomorrow.

It also helps to have a supportive family and a workplace that promotes balance for its employees. I’m blessed to work for an organization that strives to improve the quality of life for children and families in our state and extends that concern to my children and family, too.

Shawnie Carrier
Chief of Staff and Executive Director
Delta Center for Economic Development
Arkansas State University

People are better when they know that they have the freedom to operate holistically. The reality of today is that we no longer work Monday through Friday 8 to 5. This is OK because we don’t only play spouse or parent after 5 and on weekends. It used to be that we were expected to compartmentalize our roles according to the day of the week or time of the day. The new generation of professionals is bringing back balance and it is making employees more productive with bigger results. Our team knows that during crunch time, we have to be on task. They are good with this because if a personal issue arises during the “work day,” they are free to go and take care of it. This philosophy makes people better at who they are in all aspects of their life. And at the end of the day, that is what we want because better people make better communities.

A motto we use: “A true balance between work and life comes with knowing that your life activities are integrated, not separated.”