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Is the Work-Life Balance a Myth?

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

A post on the Harvard Business Review says that the work-life balance is a myth…! What do you think? Here’s why I think it is FAR from a myth.

John Beeson posted on HBR – about a subject I’ve written many times about on this blog – the Work-Life Balance. Beeson says that, nowadays, moments of relaxation and down-time are fleeting. Constant pressure means that it’s sink, or swim, and that every opportunity for a short, sharp bout of relaxation should be taken to power-up for the next round.

Say goodbye to the two-week vacation with the family. That’s history in most organizations. Instead, seek to find those activities that allow you to relax — even if only for 15 minutes a day.

– John Beeson

Don’t know about you, but I can’t relax in prescribed, regimented sessions. It’s counter-intuitive to the point.

The ‘Myth’ of Work-Life Balance….?

Perhaps John Beeson has a point. In many organizations, c-level execs just don’t have the luxury of 2-week vacations once a year. Most companies demand hard-graft and the ‘consequences of failure are punishing’. I have experienced this myself, and he is right – right when I look back at those organizations where non-stop, grueling demands were placed upon me and all at senior management level.

But, you know, this is only true in those kinds of organizations. Google is a great example. Google demands no less than its 100lbs of flesh. Their institutionalized employee meat-grinder is legendary.

This isn’t true for all organizations, though.

We sometimes forget, we DO have a choice where we work, even in these tough economic times. We don’t HAVE to take this ‘myth’ as a given, and take it on the chin.

Work-Life Balance Does Exist

A recent survey for Glassdoor.com reported that 54% of employees report good work-life balance, while 43% of employees wish they had better work-life balance.

Glassdoor.com also compiled a list of the 25 companies with the best balance of work and personal life. The top five for the best work-life balance are Nestle Purina Petcare, MITRE, SAS Institute, FactSet and United Space Alliance.

  1. Nestlé Purina PetCare
  2. MITRE
  3. SAS Institute
  4. FactSet
  5. United Space Alliance
  6. Slalom Consulting
  7. Facebook
  8. Morningstar
  9. Susquehanna International Group
  10. Colgate-Palmolive
  11. Mentor Graphics
  12. Autodesk
  13. Sheetz
  14. Agilent Technologies
  15. Turner Broadcasting
  16. Dupont
  17. Southwest Airlines
  18. General Mills
  19. Biogen Idec
  20. Scottrade
  21. Chevron
  22. Synopsys
  23. MTV Networks
  24. Intuit
  25. National Instruments

Many of these organizations are household names. I don’t think work-life balance is a myth, but just a consequences of choosing a demanding employer.

We CAN choose not to work like this. And who says we will be less successful for it?

So ask yourself, are you truly stuck in a job that’s more like a sweat-shop, or are you really choosing to stay in this job? Are you forgetting that you have a choice where you work?

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This post is part 6 of 15 in the series Working & Living
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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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