I marched into my boss’s office poised, calm, and dedicated to my decision. I couldn’t take it any longer. It’s 2018 and I was in a work environment that was barbaric and absolutely opposite of everything I knew work-life balance was about. It didn’t take me long to blurt out “I quit!” My boss replied with the typical: “why?”
My answer: “You don’t offer Zumba class here. I have rights as a worker and need to work at somewhere that’s more progressive.”
And with that I picked up my little box of personal belongings and began the job search for employers who offered Zumba, or at the very least hot yoga for their employees.
Confession: I didn’t quit my job and I care little for Zumba (although more power to you if you enjoy it). Being a work-life speaker means I submit a lot of proposals and look at the offerings at a lot of different conferences. One of my biggest pet peeves is when conference organizers classify programs like “Zumba” “dance” and “yoga” under the work-life balance section. Even worse, sometimes these programs dominate the work-life offerings.
It annoys me.
Like really bad.
Work-life balance already has a reputation about being a “soft topic” and programs that focus on fitness and breathing techniques don’t help. Those are wellness topics. Wellness and work-life balance are not the same thing. They are related but they are different. You could be doing very well in the various dimensions of wellness (physical, financial, emotional etc.) and be in a terrible work-life situation. Conversely, you could be balancing the daylights out of life but may be struggling with money and health.
On an individual level, work-life initiatives should focus on areas such values in action, time management, communication, negotiation, and understanding policies. On an organizational level they should focus on company culture, leading others, benefits and compensation, flexibility, and results-oriented approaches to work.
Why do people quit jobs? In short:
- Inflexible work arrangements that don’t meet personal needs
- Poor relationships with managers
- A negative workplace culture
- Restrictive policies
- Heavy workloads
What don’t people quit over?
- Not offering Zumba class.
I am not saying health and wellness shouldn’t factor into work-life balance. It does. Exercise and counseling help people cope and reduce stress levels. But exercise and counseling only treat symptoms of negative work-life culture instead of the root causes that are rooted at the organizational or interpersonal level.
Offer Zumba if you must but make sure you have a robust and healthy offering of actual work-life related topics to help build a stronger team and bring greater harmony between employee personal and professional domains.