The Failure of the Phrase ‘Work-Life Balance”
I’m not sure if there’s a more talked about business catch-phrase than “work-life balance”. Millennials say they demand it, HR claims the company offers it, yet most of us feel like it’s never going to happen. We read countless books and blogs about how we can re-prioritize, better manage our time, or learn to just say “no” in an effort to empower ourselves to have it – but deep down, we all know there’s a little (or a LOT) more to it.
Author Ann-Marie Slaughter tackles the issue in her article, “The Failure of the Phrase ‘Work-Life Balance'”, and her book, “Unfinished Business”. She suggests that the language we use even in naming the issue sets us up to fail. Balance is about having just enough of this and not too much of that – yet in today’s society, women in particular feel the pressures of having and doing it ALL. For those women who are caregivers, the pressures increase exponentially.
Slaughter wants to shift the conversation to one that focuses on care. If you believe that we can not survive without caring for one another, care needs to be valued – socially, economically, and politically. In the article, she briefly outlines her case on how this shift in thinking could benefit us individually, as a nation, and as a society. Balance, she claims, is not the right approach. Instead, we need stop narrowing the conversation to “work-life” and begin placing value on all the activities that enable us to reach our greatest potential and happiness.