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Monday, August 28, 2017

Work-Life Balance

Once again this past week streets in front of car dealers were lined with auto mechanics who want to cut themselves a better deal. They received an offer from the group representing area auto dealerships early last week which the mechanics union rejected. So the pickets remained in place. Uncompensated work time remained an issue yet to be brokered.

Strikes of any kind ring familiar with an upcoming American holiday.
Labor Day falls on Monday, September 4th. From the first event held in 1882, it was the desire of the Central Labor Union to get a holiday for workers. Parades would be held for the public to turn out in appreciation of the work of trade and labor organizations.

Workplace abuse has certainly been documented in our history and in other countries as well. Last week I shared a Chicago Tribune piece that claimed nearly one in five workers face incidents that include sexual harassment and bullying. The labor union issues are generally not about such stuff. They tend to focus more on wages and general working conditions.

I also made mention of a Japanese phenomenon known as karoshi. This is when the work demands become so intense that they claim the life of a worker. Many lawsuits have resulted.

Much has been written in recent years about the work-life balance. This problem is not a labor union negotiable. This is a personal choice issue. One that must be solved individually.

As you might expect, there is even a website on this: There are courses you can take to figure out how to get there. The site “experts” narrow their solution to focus on two key concepts: achievement and enjoyment. As they note, “Enjoyment does not just mean 'ha-ha' happiness. It means pride, satisfaction, happiness, celebration, love, a sense of well being…all the Joys of Living.” Sounds beautiful.

Since my last blog, two stories emerged worth noting. One is about farmers in France. This group of people is experiencing an “epidemic” of suicides. Some claim the work is too often isolating, financially precarious, and physically demanding. Narrowed down, it seems like the financial piece is the biggest threat with failing health concerns right behind.

A second story involved a federal public health employee in California. Her day starts at 2:15 AM in Stockton, California. Later she begins her commute to San Francisco, which involves two trains and a bus that leaves at 4 AM. After work, her three hour commute returns her home close to 8 PM. She goes through this routine for $81,000 a year. And she’s 62 years old!

I’m not an expert in work-life balance but I can tell you now, I wouldn’t do what this woman is doing. I wouldn’t do it for $250,000 a year! That life is crazy!

In the course of my life, I have met many in the business world who lead these kinds of crazy lives. Virtually all are in the pursuit of status and money. Some of them actually believe they must keep this pace because of their value to the corporation.

Elliot Hubbard once wrote, “The graveyards are full of people the world could not do without.”

I’ve also known several of these types who’ve walked away from this out-of-balance life to regain their sanity. Their families. Their souls. Their happiness.

Work-life balance should lead us to contentment. As the Apostle Paul discovered, “I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little.” (Philippians 4:12, CEV)

Maybe there’s something to be said for the old adage, “Get a life!”

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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