Do as I say, not as I do

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Mentoring on WorkLife Balance: Going beyond “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Presentation by: Dr. Barbara Roberts

Senior advisor to the Provost

Founding Executive Director, WorkLife Office

November 5, 2015
Recorded on Echo360 at:
Information regarding MSU’s WorkLife Office

    • Initiative of the Office of the Provost

    • Conceived over many years

      • Input from the campus community

      • Task force recommendations

    • To help MSU attract & retain top talent

Faculty & staff “one-stop shop”

    • Women’s resource center – gender issues

    • Family resource center – child and eldercare

    • Additional resources to be determined

Centralized and Decentralized

    • Located in Linton Hall (March 2016?)

    • Close liaison with related departments

      • HR/AHR re policies and benefits

      • Office for inclusions and intercultural initiatives (1-3) re Title IX issues, support

      • F&OD for educational/training initiatives

      • Health 4U & EAP supports

  • What is “work life balance?”

    • Work-life + Lifestyle = WorkLife

    • Balance across career span

      • Opportunity to incorporate new activities into routine

    • Many terms…

      • Career-life integration

      • Life-meets-work

      • Work-life management

        • Managing work and personal lives (Solomon, 2011)

  • Why?

    • Promotes health

      • Physical, mental, emotional

    • Improves productivity, participation

      • At work, at home and in community

    • Respects multiple roles and values

      • Parents, caregivers, volunteers, etc.

      • Faith-based practices prior priorities

    • Enhances loyalty and community

    • Increased career mobility

      • Global competition

      • Academia vs. private sector

    • Changing expectations of employees

      • Intergenerational workforce = different needs

      • Increased participation in caregiving

      • Greater diversity of employees

  • Policy examples

    • Dual career

    • Flex time

    • Telecommuting

    • Tenure clock adjustment

    • Paid parental leave

    • Part-time options

  • Practices

    • Training for chairs (and mentors!) on flexibility

    • Publicize flexible options

    • Reduce bias against policy users

    • Respectful workplaces for differing needs

  • What’s it worth?

    • Revitalize and retain faculty

    • Promote inclusion and diversity

    • Recruit and retain future generations

      • Changing expectations and values

    • Save money!

  • About the money…

    • Flexible policies save on average $83,000 (Gahn and Carlson 2008)

  • Maybe you’re wondering….

    • How do I know people are really working?

      • Really working when the work gets done.

    • How is flexibility fair to others?

      • Fair does not always mean the same

    • People have to choose their priorities…

      • How do we prioritize – on whose values?

    • I would have liked these options; why now?

      • Changing demographics challenge past assumptions

    • Serious faculty just put in the hours.

      • Serious and dedicated – at what cost?

    • The real world of funding & patient care don’t wait…

  • Flexibility myths

    • Productivity drops

      • It goes up

    • Morale suffers

      • It goes up

    • If I allow this for one person…

      • Different circumstances = different responses

  • Mentoring topics

    • Review real priorities

      • Personal mission/values?

        • Internally consistent?

    • Signs of stress?

      • Know your signs.

        • Chronic pain? Tummy trouble? Headaches?

    • Respond, don’t react

      • Choose a healthy response

    • Movement/exercise

      • Change of scene and activity level

      • Move, move and move some more


Scenario 1

How do you balance doing the best job possible (on any given task) with the many different tasks that need to be done within and outside the work place?

Answer: The unanimous answer for this scenario was finding new and fun activities outside of work. Some activities that were mentioned were reading, swimming, kayaking, triathlon training, yoga/meditation, coaching sports, and multiple other activities to get the mind off of work. Another way that was mentioned to balance tasks was to keep a strong support system. Groups mentioned that the relationships with their partners, children and even pets helped support them at work and also give them a reason to come home at night.
When is good enough OK?
Answer: Many groups mentioned that good enough is when you feel satisfied with the work that was done. A lot of the faculty keep the 80/20 rule in mind when tackling multiple tasks. Paying attention to prioritizing what really needs to be done is important when working on balancing work and life. Another person also mentioned that sometimes it’s okay to say “no” to tasks that aren’t first priority. It was also mentioned that organization is key when prioritizing.
Scenario 2

Is work life balance an issue for men as much as it is for women? What are the consequences of men not attending to work life balance?

Answer: Work life balance is an issue for men and women. Women get asked more often about how they are handling all the obstacles of work and outside life where as the men feel that people already assume they are balancing all of the tasks.
Scenario 3

What are the consequences of over-work/imbalance on health, family life, and overall productivity and participation?

Scenario 4

What cultural expectations are at play in work life balance?

Answer: One group mentioned that over work and dedication are usually applauded in the work place. It was also mentioned that the amount of work and social success is correlated to the amount of hours put into work.
Are there generational differences in how work life balance is viewed that challenges your ability to mentor younger faculty on this topic?
Answer: A common answer for this scenario is that there are shifting expectations and responsibilities for men and women.
“Workaholism” and “busyness” have been viewed by many as badges of honor, is this changing?
Answer: Multiple people answered that this is indeed changing. Having a steady lifestyle outside of work and keeping that balanced with work-life is now looked at as a badge of honor.

Mentor concerns

  • People do judge others by their commitment to work

  • Policy of shared parental leave for two-employee couples is bad

  • Re-evaluation of the awfulness of clinical hours in some specialty areas

  • Reevaluation of competitive policies that make part time or full-time work insufficient

  • Flexible policies good but only if use of these policies are penalized.

  • Why do we propagate our expectations of a tremendous workload on our mentees/trainees (specifically residents in training)

  • Giving advice for “balance” in a system not built for balance

Best practices from mentors

  • Make time for exercise and outside interests

  • Take a pause from work – purposively and intentionally

  • Have kids/get a pet – make you work not as much

  • Share work family with personal family

  • Allow yourself to “unplug” from email and phone access

  • Prioritize – What’s most important to maintain personal life?

  • Review these priorities frequently

  • Access output and recognize that sometimes it’s okay to work at home (acknowledge the need to rest and recharge)

  • Check out the MSU WorkLife office

  • Learn to recognize signs of stress/overwork

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