Work-Life Balance

Labor day weekend is approaching and for many (myself included) this means barbecuing, hanging out with family and friends, and most importantly NOT going into the office on Monday.  As a national day of observance for workers in America (and Canada), what does it mean to be a laborer in 2010?

In my most recent trip to Toronto, a few weeks ago, monster.ca, the Canadian equivalent of the job search engine monster.com, was conducting street interviews about today’s work climate.

Standing at one of the busiest corners of downtown Toronto (Bloor and Yonge) waiting for my lunch date, the monster.ca reporter and crew spotted me for a potential sound bite.  I must have looked particularly career oriented with my shorts, tank top, flip flops, sunglasses, and backpack look.  Or I was just the low hanging fruit among rushed businessmen and women on their breaks.

My post today is about the questions they asked and how they made me reflect on work-life balance well after the interview.

Going by memory, below are some of the questions and my reponses.  Feel free to comment on how you would have responded.

Q: Do you feel there is a shortage of jobs in your field?

A: No.  I work in public health.  If anything there’s a shortage of workers in my field.

How secure do you feel in your job?

A: I feel pretty secure in my job since there aren’t too many people in my field compared to the public health jobs out there.

Q: Are you worried that there will be another recession?

A: I hope there won’t be another one but I’m not entirely sure this recession is over yet, especially looking at our current unemployment rates.

Q: As a young person, do you feel there is more pressure on you to work longer hours because your employers assume you don’t have other obligations like family?

A: I think there’s more pressure to work harder and longer because I’m a young woman who is thinking about family.  Women today have more pressure to do it all.  We still have to be the primary caregiver, take care of the household, and still bring home a lot of the income.  The pressure is to work harder in spite of everything else to prove we can keep up.

Q: What can employers do to support work-life balance?

A: Be more flexible and understanding of our obligations outside of work.  Office buildings should have gyms and day care centers to make working out and childcare really accessible.  These things would help make it easier to balance work and life.

Q: How willing are you to reduce your hours and pay or take a different job to maintain your work-life balance?

A: Very willing.  In fact most recently I took a pay cut to reduce my working hours.  But I was only able to do this with a really supportive partner who makes enough for me to do this temporarily.  Most people I assume are not in this position so I feel very fortunate.