As a 20+ year thinker and leader in the people and culture space, I am deeply concerned about the ongoing struggle for work-life balance in the modern workplace. Employees are finding it increasingly difficult to find a healthy equilibrium in their lives due to the constant demands of the office and the expectations of their families, among other personal obligations. It is a crisis that needs to be addressed as soon as possible because it is leading to burnout and a disengaged workforce.
Here’s the mic drop moment: instead of striving for balance, we need to aim for something I call Work-Life Bloom. It’s not a matter of putting policies in place; instead, we need to change the culture of our organizations and make a fundamental shift in how leaders see their roles in terms of how people understand and become successful in both work and life.
One leader who embodies this approach is Arianna Huffington, the founder of The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and author of “The Sleep Revolution.” Her book emphasizes the importance of sleep and self-care in achieving success, both at work and in life. She shares her personal story of burnout and how she changed her approach to work-life integration. By prioritizing sleep and self-care, Arianna achieved greater success in her personal and professional life. At Thrive Global, Arianna mandates vacation time, the right to disconnect, and other tactics to ensure the concept of Work-Life Bloom is being adopted.
Borje Ekholm, the CEO of Ericsson, provides another example to consider. Ekholm has been vocal about the importance of work-life integration and has implemented several policies to support this, such as flexible working hours, parental leave, and hybrid work. The company refers to their approach as “a health-conscious work environment.” Ekholm has also been open about his own struggles with work-life balance and how he has worked to find better integration versus balance. As a result, Ekholm’s approach has led to a more satisfied and engaged workforce across Ericsson.
These examples demonstrate that there are myriad components to a Work-Life Bloom model. However, it is not only achievable, but it can lead to greater success both personally and professionally. The bad news is that the statistics on employee burnout tell a different story. According to 2022 Gallup research, 76% of workers experience burnout on the job, and a 2020 study by the World Health Organization found that burnout is now considered an “occupational phenomenon.”
These alarming data points highlight the critical need for employers to address the problem of burnout and to support the Work-Life Bloom model. We require leaders who are better able to handle both the professional and personal aspects of their team members. After all, everyone incorporates both their personal lives and their professional lives into the work that they do.
It is abundantly clear to me that the modern workplace is experiencing a burnout crisis, and it is our duty as professionals, leaders, and employees to find a solution to this problem. Instead of striving for balance, leaders should be aiming to help team members bloom in both work and life and look to leaders like Arianna Huffington and Börje Ekholm as examples of how to achieve this. By promoting a culture of Work-Life Bloom, we can create a more engaged, motivated, and satisfied workforce.
But this is not just a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing effort that requires some seriously heavy leadership lifting in the coming years.
Publishing in October 2023: my attempt at solving this riddle.
Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture a Team That Flourishes outlines six work factors and six life factors that will help team members to bloom in both work and life, so long as leaders take the time to endorse the model.
Work-life balance is a myth, as is evident by the rising rates of burnout, anxiety, stress, busyness, distractedness, and emotional anguish.
There is a better way.
Pre-order Work-Life Bloom today, publishing in October 2023.
Watch the one-minute book trailer below.