Life Work in The Balance


When working life absorbs every waking breath into its fold, companies bring out their spin doctors. Mantras flow quick and fast. Focus is brought on the “work-life balance” – and a host of similar quick fix band-aids to make everyone feel better. A tongue-in-cheek look at today’s work-life imbalance…


Corporations worry about bottom lines. In the process of boosting financial returns, higher targets are setup, longer hours ensue and lives get more frantic.


If the gloom on the global economic front is any indication, the situation will continue to escalate.


With technology seeping into every breathing moment of the day – it has succeeded in amplifying the speed with which every task is to be completed.


The scenario is a familiar one. Competition in the marketplace is stiff, the economic environment is tricky and companies are exploring all avenues to come up with methods that can ensure success in keeping afloat.


As a global Venture Capitalist puts it, “Business is brutally competitive in every sector where thousands of dead and rotting corpses of slaughtered companies lie on a battleground preparing itself for another day in the marketplace.”


Healthy bottom lines naturally take precedence over healthy individuals in their attempts to create streamlined processes.


Companies treat employees as mechanized wheels to keep the numbers rolling. Employees in shifts work around the clock. Supervisors and heads of departments maintain the tempo, the seniority pyramid cloister themselves in boardrooms studying spreadsheets into the wee hours.


When burnout occurs they are dealt with efficient ruthlessness. Reducing employee absenteeism becomes critical and corporations come up with “ideal working environments”, employee benefits, yoga classes, in-house, gyms, “healthy” food pantries, breakout sessions of physical activity in groups or individuals.


While road warriors are spared the ‘cubical or open-office’ competitive aggression, typically nick-named the ‘pressure cooker’, they are in turn victims of endless hours of travel to cover markets assigned to them. Territory is mapped and targets are set under rigorous do-or-die instructions.


When working life absorbs every waking breath into its fold, companies bring out their spin doctors. Mantras flow quick and fast. Focus is brought on the “work-life balance” – and a host of similar quick fix band-aids to make everyone feel better.


New theories – new health fads – new regimens – new neology covered by wordsmiths troop in. “Heal-thy”, “Bleisue”, “wellth”, “slow travel” and so on. Each brings along a string of marketers to benefit the company with the brilliant idea, which brings one to the millions dollar question. Did one indeed ever succeed in creating a work-life balance since the beginning of time?


Isn’t life all about survival no matter how sophisticated the wardrobe, nomenclature and weaponry in use? The battlegrounds have transformed from harsh geographical terrain – from the conquests of distant lands to company takeover and liquidations. The winner takes all. And companies are not forgiving.


And when survival seems temporarily assured – don’t most people automatically enjoy the fruits of a win- then as of now? The cracks appear when the ability to absorb stress is overwhelmed by anxiety of failure. It’s not the actual work structure that is triggering the meltdown – it’s the survival instinct. What if I fail? What if others do better than me? What if I lose my job? And so on.


Which brings us back to the question of ‘work-life’ balance. As an evolved people – we are or should be better off than our hunters, gatherers and warrior forefathers. We are entitled to superior lifestyle benefits. We battle our way through a comfort-rich environment created by hi-end technology and evolution. Technology in turn, brings the penultimate addiction – ideas that need to be leveraged as soon as they are born….shorter time frames which are often mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.


Our leisure breaks, whenever we manage to get it – is ours for the short span of time it takes for our minds and brains to figure out that our survival instinct is intrinsically linked, forever, to some equation that skips de-stress signals and fixes itself like a praying mantis: If I did this – I could get better returns…maybe the next promotion..the next unicorn..


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