by Jay Knoll, Senior Vice President and General Counsel on Dec 12, 2018
This entry first appeared on Rogers Corporation’s internal “Leadership Blog.” Our CEO, Bruce Hoechner, and his senior leadership team write weekly posts for Rogers’ intranet, generating many likes and comments from colleagues around the globe.
This blog was written by Jay Knoll, Rogers’ Senior Vice President and General Counsel, and has been edited for external publication.
Work-life balance is a popular subject. Companies can tend to focus more on the work side of the scale, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in balance for their employees. Like Rogers, many companies are placing more emphasis on a culture that encourages the appropriate work-life balance.
At the Leadership level, we consistently discuss the workload of our teams and the organization as a whole. We understand that we establish the corporate agenda, which often leads to changes in workloads and priorities. We also understand that we set an example through our actions.
As a manager, I work with an outstanding group of professionals, each of whom also has outside interests, like family, dance, competitive sports, bird watching, miniature golf and gardening. In my one-on-ones and staff meetings, we discuss workload and how it is shared across the team. As managers, we also need to be sensitive to cultural differences and legal requirements (e.g., France’s 35-hour work week, restrictions on off-hour communications with non-exempt employees in the US).
As a parent, I’ve been coaching my adult children, who are in the earliest stages of their careers. I have a daughter who is working the early shift as a pastry baker that starts at 5:00 a.m., and another daughter working for a consulting firm where she is working 14+ hour days and traveling at least four days every week. We discuss the personal sacrifices they’re making now and what expectations they have for the future. Both daughters are learning a lot in their chosen fields and are generally happy with their choices, though a bit tired.
Personally, I’m probably like you, with jobs that sometimes demanded a disproportionate amount of my time and energy. For example, my wife recently reminded me of the wedding of a good friend’s son ten years ago that I missed because of a work emergency. (It’s a long story.) My chosen career does not have a steady and consistent workload and instead has ebbs and flows, for example when there is a special project like an M&A transaction. But even at my busiest, I have often found a strong sense of personal and professional satisfaction with my work.
Here’s how Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s CEO) frames this issue in an interview with Business Insider US:
This work-life harmony thing is what I try to teach young employees and actually senior executives at Amazon too. But especially the people coming in. I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies there’s a strict trade-off…If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy, and if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.
Now that you’ve come to the end of my blog, you might be expecting me to provide THE answer to the work-life balance question. Sorry, but here’s the best I’ve got: Finding your work-life balance is like finding your perfect cup of coffee. You’ll search forever, but it’s just too elusive. You’ll often find great cups, sometimes bad, and some days you’ll need the jolt of a double espresso, while at other times you’ll want to indulge in a caramel macchiato with whipped cream.