Work – Home Life balance is a buzz phase in today’s business world. What does it actually mean? For a company, it is the idea that employees need away time to be more productive. That idea is preached and repeated at every major corporation. The problem is that to stand out as an achiever, the employee still has to sacrifice family time to perform those extra tasks that cannot fit into a normal work week. This truth has a very negative effect on one specific class of workers, those who are raising children.

Early in the average career, before long term relationships and children, the only competition for time is entertainment. Entertainment includes the various mating rituals of young people as they try to pair up, for a night or a lifetime. Late in a career, after children have moved on to their own lives, most couples are actually looking for activities apart from each other. I am not suggesting that children hold all relationships together, it is just that by the time the kids are gone, most couples have matured enough that time apart is not detrimental.

Those people who are early in their relationships, especially when children are involved, are under so many more stresses; the stress of developing the relationship, the stress of child rearing, the stress of financial insecurity. Most people believe they are giving the most in a relationship, much more than their partner. Any other distraction only magnifies that perceived disparity of effort. When those stresses or life choice and events result in a single parent situation, the stresses are only worse. There is no support and yet the employer still expects the effort that will make you stand out among your peers.

Most corporations truly believe that they are helping in the work – home life balance. They have training, support seminars, even policies in place. The reality is that the final decisions cannot be based on how well you family is doing, but on the individual contributions to the corporation. Many people believe that corporations have a civic duty to take care of their employees. The best way for a corporation to fulfill that duty is to remain a viable company. That goal may actually be detrimental to individuals, but overall is beneficial to most of the workers.

I personally am in the category of children moving on. I have the capability of travelling whenever the need arises. I can work weekends or evening without causing a scheduling catastrophe at home. As a result of this freedom, I am being given opportunities at work that were never available before. I am also trying to help the younger people I work with understand that patience and dedication are the best ways to move up in a company. So many of the young people entering the work force today have an entitlement attitude. As a result, they believe that any single exceptional effort should be instantly rewarded and considered for all future compensation. Although instant compensation is available at most companies, these perks seldom add to the base compensation. Consistent excellence is what is rewarded in the long run. Patience is the trait, along with focus, that creates the best path to success.

Coming back to the work – home life balance, when an employee is in those stressful years of relationship building and child rearing, the aim is to do both. Work on your skills and you home life. Expect to grow, but do not expect to be the youngest Vice President. The consistency that you develop both in your career and in you home life will make you the most valuable employee that you company has when you hit your stride.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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