What’s the Right Work-Family Balance?


Go ahead, leave that e-mail for tomorrow, the kids would love to see you. And so would your wife.

In the exceedingly hectic work lives we lead, it’s becoming easier to prioritize work over family. Accolades are bested on executives that work harder and bring in profits for their companies. This we are told to believe will make us feel more professionally fulfilled.

But what if that was wrong?

Well, according to a recent study by the Academy of Management, fathers that spend more time with their children have reported experiencing greater career satisfaction and feeling better about their work-family dynamic.

The Wall Street Journal reporting on this study found that many fathers are taking advantage of greater flexible work arrangements. A working professional for example might consider coming in to work earlier and then leaving at 4:30 to pick up the children from work. And since all of us have smartphones, an executive may even go back to the virtual office after the kids are in bed.

As a working professional with two young daughters at home, these findings were particularly illuminating. Even more so considering that I recently returned to an office setting after working from home where I was able to see my family plenty.

In the pursuit of bigger salaries and loftier titles, this is a good reminder that carving out even more time for the family is good for our sanity and wellbeing. Because if you don’t have that, then what good is that bigger paycheck?

This reminds me of that Marist poll from a few years back that found that the magic number to reporting a high quality of life went down to $50,000 a year up from $75,000. As someone that just left a city with a very high cost of living, I am a bit skeptical of those numbers, but I get it. At some point, a higher salary will do little to raise your quality of life.

Besides it really is true what they say about kids growing up fast. I am constantly amazed by my three year old. Gone are the days of babbling and carrying on seemingly incomprehensible conversations. She’s now telling jokes and even leading conversations like asking me how my day at work went.

And one of the true highlights of my working days is coming home to the arms of my one-year old racing to give me a bear hug.

Whatever your stage as a parent, the time we spend with our loved ones is fleeting. Spending more time with your family need not mean you are less productive or driven.

Balance is the key – perhaps even weighted slightly more towards more family time.

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