Three Business Acumen Impacts of Work-Life Integration



Business leaders around the world are struggling with the challenges and opportunities of presenting their employees with what they think is a reasonable and realistic work-life balance.  Can leaders in the global 24/7 business world who are trying to achieve stretch goals coach, mentor, and lead employees who want to work hard but also need family time, social time, and workout time?  I believe that one of the reasons leaders struggle is that the term “work-life balance” implies and assumes there has to be trade-offs; that it is an either or proposition.  This past week, I had the privilege of working with a group of emerging leaders who shared that this is quickly becoming their top worry as the next generation of employees is entering the workforce.

After speaking with business leaders of a variety of age and experience levels about this topic I have come to the conclusion that continuing to call it a “work-life balance” is a huge mistake. “Work-life balance” has become an antiquated concept that can’t and won’t be solved because it’s truly not a choice anymore.

The term that I have started to use and share is work-life integration. The concept of work-life integration is gaining momentum as a result of some of the work at the Wharton School’s work-life integration project.  Work-life integration acknowledges that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive because today’s employees have the tools to break through walls, break through time, and optimize their performance.  Think about watching a top TV show in 2000:  you either watched it live or recorded it and watched it at home on your VCR later.  Today, you can watch any TV show anyplace and at any time including on a plane, boat, or treadmill in your office workout facility during a lunch break.

With these changes, there are several significant business acumen impacts leaders can embrace to make the concept of work-life integration powerful and productive:

Helps prioritize time and tasks

Instead of being forced to make a choice between work and life, employees can make choices about work and life.  By focusing on prioritizing time and tasks, employees can put together the right fabric of life that works for them, their company, their production, and all other elements of the work-life integration system.  The evolved business leader can then coach and mentor employees in this system to make sure that there is alignment at work, all tasks are getting accomplished, performance goals are being achieved, and the employee is able to choose to live and eat healthy and spend time with family and other social commitments.  The challenge of course is being able to determine what the appropriate metrics are.

Helps focus and measure the right metrics

By embracing integration and not forcing “either/or” choices, the business leader can support stronger focus and measurement of the right metrics of success.  New standards of productivity and performance will be developed between the company and the employees to gain focus.  For example, ABC, Inc. has a product leadership strategy and wants to launch a new product by the end of the year to beat the competition.  To accomplish this goal, a small team of 10 employees has about 5,000 hours of hard and collaborative work to complete.  Over the course of the next 10 weeks, the leader and employees focus on the work effort and realize that it will take about 50 hours per week per person of coordinated effort to accomplish the launch before the competition launches their version.  They all work together in the system of work-life integration to prioritize their work schedules, the social schedules, entertainment schedules, workout schedules, religious observance schedules, and family schedules.  The metrics are first-to-market and healthy, happy, and engaged employees.

Builds better and deeper collaboration skills and outcomes

The biggest risk of the work-life integration approach is that employees in the system will be selfish and not be part of the team.  Leaders trying to create a work-life integration system will have to have the skills and tools to build and support deep collaboration skills.  If this happens, then the leader – and the business – will benefit through long term success because these leadership and collaboration skills are transferable to other projects, tasks, and goals.

In summary, the business world has changed.  Business leaders who embrace work-life integration and lead effectively through a discipline of business acumen skills can achieve long-term and sustained success as the same time employees are engaged, healthy, happy, and productive.


Robert Brodo

About The Author

Robert Brodo is co-founder of Advantexe. He has more than 20 years of training and business simulation experience.