181 million . . . This is the number of results from a recent internet search of the phrase “work-life balance.”\r\n\r\nOne of the reasons for the high interest in this topic is that the two parties involved, the employee and the employer, may not always feel accountable for improving it. Employees may be expecting flexible work schedules from their employers, for example. But have they taken the time to define and achieve success in their professional and personal roles? Employers may be expecting higher productivity from their employees, for example. But have they taken the time to understand how they can help employees deliver expected performance results without sacrificing their personal lives?\r\n\r\nIn a recent presentation to a group of HR leaders, I offered suggestions on this topic:\r\n\r\n1. Employees can become more accountable for improving their work-life balance. At the start of any job, whether it is entry level or senior executive, employees receive performance objectives and role definition, which outline what success looks like at work. If employees don’t feel accountable for defining success in their personal lives, the work parameters for success can easily become their marching orders for what is important in their lives. Don’t wait until you experience the negative effects of an imbalanced professional and personal situation to define where you want to take your life. Follow the three steps I have outlined in my book and in past newsletters:\r\n• Step1: Become 100 percent accountable for the decisions you make (and not make) in your life.\r\n• Step 2: Develop and record in writing your personal mission statement.\r\n• Step 3: Live your mission 24/7.\r\n\r\n2. Employers can become more accountable for helping their employees improve their work-life balance. Since the “employer” is not one person but a group of people working within the same organization, let me divide my recommendations by role:\r\na. Managers who have employees reporting to them can:\r\n• Ensure each employee has the clearest possible set of performance objectives, leaving no doubt of what represents success at work.\r\n• Open the dialogue to help define what represents a positive work-life balance for each employee. Ideally, arrive at up to three actions that the manager and employee will take. Review progress often.\r\n• Enforce vacation plans. Employees may react to work pressure by delaying vacation days. Managers can help them plan for this so they can confidently take their days off without disrupting their work.\r\nb. HR professionals can:\r\n• Set up the right training for employees and managers to follow the suggestions above (or others they may have).\r\n• Understand how flexible work arrangements can benefit employees. One size may not fit all. Employee needs may vary by gender and age, and usually evolve as they go through different life stages.\r\n• Understand the impact of technology on employees. Opinions range from loving the ubiquity of always being connected online, to the need to set strict boundaries for work-related email and cell phone calls after normal office hours.\r\n\r\nIn summary, both parties can work together to improve work-life balance and deliver better professional performance. I will be providing more insights and suggestions on this topic in my blog posts during August. They will be published every Monday.\r\n\r\nI want to close this newsletter with a quote by best-selling author Stephen Covey: “Most people struggle with life balance simply because they haven’t paid the price to decide what is really important to them.” As you embark on this journey, count on me to help you succeed.\r\n\r\nPercy M. Cannon\r\nAuthor, Business Consultant, Facilitator, and Professional Coach\r\nwww.cannon.consulting\r\n\r\nPS1: Use this link if you want to buy my book, The Business Apostolate, Insights to Define and Achieve your Mission in Life with a special discount for newsletter readers. Just enter code MU5Z7NLM.\r\nPS2: Use this link to ask questions, post comments, and request topics you would like to see in future issues.\r\nPS3: Use this link to subscribe to future newsletter issues or review previous ones.