Work-Life Balance is a Human Resources Imperative

Laurie Ruettimann Audacious Ideas, HR, HR (& Life!) Advice, Work Life Balance

Earlier this year, I told you that a job in human resources gives you all kinds of flexibility and balance. Most of you thought I was a liar. Then I said that HR should take a sabbatical, and many of you laughed at me.

“Who’s got time for a sabbatical?”

I weep for you people. Yes, you people.

As HR leaders, it’s your job to model work-life balance because your CEO can’t do it. He’s already earning 300x the average worker, and if he opened the kimono, your employees would revolt.

(“I work smart,” says every CEO. “I get up early and work late.” He forgets to add that he works with enormous perqs and a staff that helps him get stuff done. But now I’m just an Occupy Wall Street socialist, right?)

Do you need more tips on how to achieve better work-life balance? Yes, you freaking do. You are failing at it.

Read a book for fun.

Stop stalking your high school boyfriend on social media and read a book. I don’t want you to read another boring HR book, either. All summer long, my Twitter feed has been sick with book recommendations. I liked Luckiest Girl Alive, Straight to Hell, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Voices in the Night, Remember Me Like This, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Red Queen, In the Unlikely Event, Our Souls at Night, Crazy Rich Asians, Dietland, Saint Anything, The Martian, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and Station Eleven. There are a lot of choices for all types of readers. Pick one. Read ten pages each night before you go to bed. You won’t be sorry.

Watch better television.

What the hell is wrong with you? We are in the golden age of television, and you’re watching Big Bang Theory reruns. Go beyond your comfort zone and explore Netflix, Hulu, Roku, Starz and HBO. A friend recommended Bloodline, and I was hooked. I also like Empire, Homeland, and The Mindy Project. Find something your kids and spouse will hate. Make it your thing.

Exercise like your life depends on it.

I don’t think that sitting is the new smoking because smoking is freaking awful. If you smoke, quit. If you can’t stop, see a psychologist and quit. Your life depends on it. But back to exercise: it’s the most awesome, selfish thing you can do for yourself. You’re taking a stand and saying, “Hold the phone. I need thirty minutes for myself. Do you want to bug me? You’ll have to pry these thirty minutes from my cold, dead hands.” There are plenty of you who can’t take a sabbatical, but you can work a little smarter (like your overpaid CEO) and cobble together 30 minutes to get up and stop thinking about work.

Too many of us in human resources and recruiting worry about being taken seriously. We want to be strategic partners, and we feel like we have to work a bazillion hours to be considered credible and dependable.

Eff that.

I believe that the key to career success is balance and differentiation. Take yourself less seriously, learn a little more about the world, and get moving. If you try this for 90 days and don’t see any life results, I’ll give you $5.

But my money is on me, baby.