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The Dance & Collision Between Career and Family

Quick question: When conflict arise between your career and your family dynamics, which take priority? how do you decide? Do you sometimes feel like you are caught between your role as a provider and your responsibilities as a spouse, or parent?

You may have heard the term "do not bring your personal problems to work." Another related term that is often used is "do not take your work issues home." In theory, those statements sound logical and wise. But, are those expectations realistic? Maybe the solution is in finding ways for carer and family interests to coexist without driving you crazy.

Approximately 90 percent of American workers reported work-family conflicts. Workers in the USA have longer work days than workers in all other developed countries. And, the USA has the least worker-friendly policies of the developed world.

On average, executives and US workers spend more time with their career than they do with their spouse or their kids.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) the human brain is not compartmentalized to keep work and home issues separate. It is difficult, and maybe impossible to concentrate fully on your work when you have a sick child at home, or when your marriage is strained.

Research shows that evolving family dynamics are driving the incidence of employee stress, anxiety, illness, and turnover. There is an increase in working couples who care for children and for aging parents. There is also an increase in single family homes where one parent is the breadwinner and nurturer. Many heads of these family units often feel forced to choose between their career and their family. And, for many, having to choose one or the other is a nonstarter, because they need both to survive.

So, how should a leader manage the overlap and, sometimes, the collision of career and home interests that are constantly demanding their attention?

Here are some ideas that may help CEOs answer that difficult question:

  1. Remember your priorities and let them drive your decisions.

  2. Give yourself permission to be human. Find time for you. You'll be much better equipped to enjoy your family and to do your best at work when you take care of yourself.

  3. Review priorities often so that you'll remain centered.

  4. Set boundaries and honor them. Without boundaries your family life will encroach on your career responsibilities and your work will cause stress at home. With proper boundaries you'll be more effective at work and at home.

  5. Give your maximum effort when at work and enjoy to the fullest when away from work.

  6. Schedule your family and personal times just as judiciously as you plan your work schedule.

  7. Seek help when you feel overwhelmed. Coaching can help.

Ideas to reduce work-family conflicts for your employees:

  1. Consider enhancing family leave benefits.

  2. Implement partial paid family leave.

  3. Be more flexible with work schedules.

  4. Consider adding public childcare options for employees with small children.

  5. Explore having some staff work remotely from home.


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