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‘Work-Life Balance’ Is Backfiring on Employers. Here’s Why.

Work-life "integration" is the way to go. But, first, leaders must first understand why a perfect work-life balance isn't even possible


Work-life balance is a concept many employers have been attempting to make a reality for employees. Unfortunately, it isn’t as attainable as we’d hoped.

Jennifer Moss from Waterloo, Ontario, author of Unlocking Happiness At Work: How a Data-driven Happiness Strategy Fuels Purpose, Passion and Performance, believes that the goal of work-life balance has actually decreased employee engagement. And, certainly, engagement is low: According to Gallup’s U.S. Employee Engagement study of 3,500 employees, only 37 percent of those surveyed described themselves as engaged.

According to Moss, that alarming statistic stems from the amplified negative public perception of work. “[In the past], most people didn’t associate work with their passion, but with a paycheck. This is still very true today,” Moss explained to me via email. “Since we spend up to 90,000 hours at work in our lifetime, don’t we want that time to be spent well? Work-life balance means we must treat both as separate experiences.”

The author continued that we can’t ignore the fact that a person’s work life and home life overlap. And, because our brains don’t bifurcate well, she suggested work-life integration, as opposed to a continued search for balance, as the way to achieve the ultimate balance.

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