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Monday, 26 December 2011

What is the need for work and play means?

The need for work and play


Employers may not take too kindly to the current generation of employees who see a great need for work-life balance.

THE Human Resources manager looked up from the stack of papers in front of him and asked the young applicant why there was a gap from the time of his graduation and his work application. She took a few seconds to think before she gave a slight shrug and replied that she needed time and wasn’t sure of the jobs she wanted to apply for.

Then to justify her answer, she said that her mother financially supported her during that period.

The manager then asked her if she had any questions about the company since she had stated in her resume that she was looking “to grow her career and find the right company”.

An interviewer would be more impressed when a young applicant talks about her commitment towards her job instead of explaining the need for work-life balance.
She queried if it would be a nine-to-five job and added that she would not be able to work on weekends as she had church commitments.

I must say that she should not have responded in that manner as it was not appropriate.

This highlights the lack of drive and determination of the individual and raises doubts about the applicant’s commitment towards the job.

“Gap year” is a trendy term tossed around, and one commonly associated with the privilege of an affluent graduate. Indeed it means taking that fully financially supported time off for soul- or career-searching.

On the other hand, if the applicant had said she had taken the year off to gain working experience in the field she was planning to enter and to be sure that it was what she wanted, it would paint an entirely different picture.

In the present job market, employers are looking to hire people with more than just paper qualifications. Usually those who can afford to take a gap year to gain working experience and to determine their career path, would have an edge.

However, it has to be communicated in a manner that does not connote that a person has no direction or is not trying hard enough to look for a job and therefore making an excuse.

The other “demand” that interviewees tend to naively convey is work-life balance. This has to be earned and should not be considered a right of any new employee. In life, one needs to strike a balance.

Too much of one thing means less of another. Success is about hard work.

It is impossible to find an individual who has achieved success in the corporate world, or any other field by working regular hours, enjoying a five-day week and taking the contractual 14 or 21 days off to see the world.

Work-life balance should be considered a juggling act of the mind, and not the physical hours of work. In developed countries, there is great emphasis on work-life balance, so much so that some executives believe it is their right to demand that they work no more than eight hours a day, and yet be able to lead the lifestyle of many wealthy people.

I have been told by young travellers around the world about how they could afford to go on their journeys as there were apparently no limits to the number of credit cards they could obtain! However, recent surveys have also highlighted the number of bankrupts who were below the age of 30!

Having a work-life balance is not something that is totally unacceptable, but if I were in my 20’s and speaking to a prospective employer, I would keep my other priorities that are not work-related expressedly silent at the job interview. Employers are fair but like all human beings, they would like to believe that it is the job that is your most important priority at that point of time.

To me, work-life balance is not about equally distributing your time between work and personal life. It means being able to find the time to relax and do the things you love without compromising your work responsibilities.

I would also highlight to my employer of my objectives and goals for work life and social life and show how they complement each other. Find that balance and tailor your career for success.

Paul Kam is a lawyer by training. He has worked with private and public sector leaders and has designed and led several transformation, alignment and strategic change initiatives. With his understanding of market conditions in various industries, he is passionate about shifting and aligning mindsets and behaviours of leaders and employees. He is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Management and is also a certified team profiler and a life and wealth coach.

Related post:
All work and no play !

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