1 Hidden Influence on Work Life Balance

Shawnee Love   •  
January 18, 2013

Last week, I shared the lesson I learned about the effects of too much work. For the next few weeks, let’s talk about the hidden ways companies influence the work life balance of their employees.

One hidden way work life balance is influenced is:


In some companies and professions, the more you work the better. Hours of work are a source of pride and the less sleep you get the more you can brag. It is a rite of passage for articling lawyers and accountants to put in 80 hrs per week or more, and when questioned about the ethics of working newbies to near exhaustion, the “establishment” argues it is good practice for a successful career and good preparation for the real world.  I am not sure I agree with their version of the real world, but I do get those points since it is a common practice in sports & athletic training to practice to the point of fatigue to develop muscle memory and the mental toughness needed to win. Saying that, few of us make the kind of money that pro-athletes make.

For example, if you are making $50,000 per year and working 80 hrs per week:

$50,000 ÷ (80 hrs * 50 weeks [assuming 2 weeks of vacation]) =

You are averaging $12.50/hr!


If you love your  work and/or feel your future opportunities are worth the sacrifice of your personal life this may be all good.  If not, since cultural change tends to be more evolution than revolution, you are better to find a company with more balance in their work life expectations than trying to fight your company culture.

And sometimes, it isn’t just the company culture, it is the industry in general.  Take the hospitality industry for example.  I often see employees in this industry looking for different roles and leaving the industry when they “get older” and/or gain families, because the hospitality industry seems to be all about long hours, late nights, and drinking, partying and socializing after your shift is done. Tons of fun if that is the lifestyle you want, but it can burn you out and/or get a little old if it isn’t your true passion.

And because it is industry-wide, bucking the trend is a herculean task indeed.

What way does your culture influence work life balance?