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From work-life balance to work-life integration

Sophie Preston
01 Nov 2019
The following article has been created by Ashley Fell, a social researcher who is recognised as a leader in tracking emerging issues and researching social trends. She is a TEDx speaker, regularly delivers keynote presentations on the topics of leadership, communication and customer/generational engagement, and is the Team Leader of Communications at McCrindle, who count among its clients hundreds of leading international brands.
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. Fr. Alfred D’Souz

Work. It’s a big part of one’s life. It always has been. But in the current climate it’s harder than ever to switch off, and to distinguish the difference between work and rest.

This is because life today is non-partitioned and holistic. The devices we carry allow many of us, particularly in the knowledge economy, to take work not just home, but wherever we go. People work in cafes, in airports, even from the lounge in our pyjamas! The rise of the gig economy – a labour market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs – also contributes to this.

For many of us, work and life, or work and rest, have become more blurred than ever.

In our survey of workers, more than one in five (22%), said the main reason they left their previous employment situation was because of the work-life balance (or the lack thereof) they encountered. For many of us, work and life, or work and rest, have become more blurred than ever.

The term ‘work-life balance’ is a concept often used in 21st Century workplaces to distinguish between work responsibilities and other aspects of our personal wellbeing such as the social, relational, spiritual or financial. But as work continues to permeate other areas of our life, a new term is replacing the work/life balance equation. And that’s work-life integration

As of this year, generations Y and Z now comprise more than half the global workforce. These generations have been shaped by digital technology, the internet, the gig economy and contingent work. They are the generation of Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Silicon Valley, poster-pinning and idealising greater work flexibility, entrepreneurism and the belief that anything is possible.

Today we see less differentiating between work-life and out-of-work-life, or one’s corporate job and one’s personal values.

But what we’ve also seen from this generation, is an integration of work and life. Rather than viewing work as a separate part of life, or simply an obstacle to overcome, work is viewed as an important and significant part of our life. After all, we work for more than just remuneration. Other than to get paid, 63% of workers say work is extremely or very important to a having a sense of purpose. Workers also say work is extremely or very important to developing them as a person (59%), making a difference in the lives of others (58%), bettering society and the world (55%) and contributing to a sense of community and belonging (54%).

Today we see less differentiating between work-life and out-of-work-life, or one’s corporate job and one’s personal values. In response, organisations should ensure the prospective employee fits the role not just based on their competence, but also that their culture suits the organisations, and their character is a values match as well. When workers feel that they fit the organisation, they are a valued member of the team and that work is a place they belong, they have a greater chance of thriving, and therefore, so does the organisation they work for.

If you would like more information on Ashley Fell, please get in touch with the Celebrity Speakers team on 09 373 4177 or [email protected]
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