The Myth of Work-Life Balance

View time as a ‘wheel’ and determine how many sections to devote to each aspect of life.

August 18, 2013
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Few companies are in a position to be as generous or flexible with their employees as Yahoo!

But new CEO Marissa Mayer’s major policy changes on parental leave and telecommuting have sparked a lot of discussion about the evolving relationship between employer and employee, and the oft-cited “work-life balance.”

The topic is bandied about at credit union conferences, too.

A speaker at an executive women’s leadership conference Suzanne Oliver recently attended panned the concept of “work-life balance.” Oliver, chair of the CUNA Human Resources/Training & Development Council, agrees it’s an improper goal.

“It isn’t possible,” says Oliver, senior vice president of educational services and governmental affairs at $3.4 billion asset Mountain America Credit Union in West Jordan, Utah.

Oliver isn’t being pessimistic. Rather, she supports the perspective motivational speaker Dr. John Rhodes offered Mountain America staff recently.

Employees should consider their available time as a “wheel” and constantly re-evaluate how many sections they dedicate to each aspect of their lives, he says.

“I love this idea because it’s about picking and choosing, depending on the stage of life you’re in,” she continues. “Sometimes you must give more attention to work. Other times your personal life is a higher priority.”

Oliver lauds Mountain America for recognizing those opportunities for employees as well. During the lead-up to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, for example, massive freeway expansion projects made getting to work an excruciating experience.

In response, Mountain America initiated a telecommuting program for some of its call center employees.

The successful program continues to this day, and now includes staff from other areas, too.

Mountain America recently garnered its fourth “Best Companies to Work For” award from Utah Business magazine, and the state’s Department of Workforce Services bestowed on the credit union the 2012 Utah Work/Life Award.