Would you trade work-life balance for money?

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Here’s is an experience from one of our readers.  We send these every Friday in our newsletter, which is free to sign up for. 

I always love reading (and confirming my own opinions) about work/life balance, especially since it is something that so many companies preach that they value and practice.

I think a lot of companies can get away with this model for 1 simple thing: money. The company I worked for paid SUPER well out of school (like, I was making more there when I started than I am now almost 2 years later somewhere else). They’re also the kind of company that likes to get rid of Managers or Sr. Managers that aren’t performing as well as they’d like; sure, the client likes them and they do a good job, but they don’t spend enough time selling and winning new projects. AND they’re making too much money now. Having worked for an internal project for a while, I know that low-level employees are charged out at much higher margins than their Managers and Partners. The firm made a lot more money by just hiring more and more people out of school, letting them burn themselves out, keep the ones that can take the heat and make them more money, and hire more people to replace the ones that leave. They can delay the leave by throwing a bunch of work/life balance incentives (health programs, spending stipends, etc.), but you usually have to spend money to make money, stay a certain length of time, or go through some hoops of approval to make it work. My guess is that they budget far less towards those incentives than what they advertise (but that’s just my speculation based on how I used them and saw others using them).

I think we should take a lot of ownership over our own happiness – whether it means setting expectations with your employer so that you are meeting and, within reason, exceeding expectations, having tough conversations, and doing a lot of soul searching to better understand what you want out of that job and your own life. I ultimately decided that I didn’t want to be a CEO mogul that climbed the ranks higher and faster than anyone else, especially if it meant not spending time with my husband and family or doing work that I hated.

Morgan, Dearborn, MI

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Written by Jay

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