Work/Life Balance

Essay by kfehrUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2005

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Work/Life Balance

Submitted in partial fulfillment of

The requirement for ELFH-611

Fall Semester, 2004


"Business is Better When Life is Good" was the tag line for the 2004 Work/Life Alliance Awards banquet I recently attended with a colleague, who was accepting an award for Anthem as a 2004 Work/Life Alliance Award Winner. Michael D. Shum, Director of Global Workforce Diversity Operations at IBM , was the keynote speaker at the luncheon. During his speech he claimed that substandard employee satisfaction results prompted IBM's $50 Million Global Work/Life fund, a five-year strategy in which he currently oversees for the organization. I thought to does a company arrive at such a decision? What type of return on investment (ROI) does an organization have to reap to substantiate a 50 million dollar investment? My curiosity was peaked!


What exactly is "work/life" balance? We have all heard the term, and many of us complain that we don't have enough of it in our lives, but how does having "it" equate to individual and organizational performance? The meaning of work/life balance has varying characteristics.

An important point to not overlook is that this balance has different meanings for different groups of people. Nancy Lockwood (2003), author of the article Work/Life Balance: Challenges and Solutions, introduces a new concept of "total life planning", which is a shift from past conceptions of work/life balance representing "conflicting forces". The author states this new school of thought, "Encourages employees to look at their lives as a whole and assess relationships, emotional and physical well-being, careers, spirituality, and their personal financial situation." (Lockwood, 2003)

In addition, work/life balance does not only reflect the physical boundaries between home and work. A 2003 study revealed that employees are often preoccupied with work even when not working. The...