Someone called me today in need of coaching regarding work/life issues (it was actually for his wife, who was too busy to be able to make the call herself). This reminded me that the 'perfect job' entails more than using skills you love, in work that interests you, and that pays a decent salary and benefits. The 'perfect job' contains a good dose of work/life satisfaction, which is an expression of our unique work and life values.
Just look at Fortune magazine's '100 Best Companies to Work For' list and you will see many companies interested in making their employees more happy on the job. And why not? According to an article entitled 'Work-Life Balance Key to Being the Best' in Management Issues News, publicly traded companies in the '100 Best' list since 1998 have nearly tripled the return of the Standard & Poor's 500 average. That sounds like pretty good news for employers and shareholders, right?
Then why are so many workers unhappy...in fact, unhappy enough to make job and career changes in record numbers in the pursuit of happiness? Perhaps the majority of American companies need to take notice of what the '100 Best' are doing right - such as flextime, reduced hours, job sharing, telecommuting, and compressed work weeks on a year-round basis - and commit to making much-needed changes that will increase the happiness quotient AND bring in a decent business return-on-investment.
Paying lip service to work/life policies in a company just doesn't cut it...word gets out quickly (remember we are a socially interconnected world now) that it's just a recruitment ploy. In Management Issues News article 'Work-Life Policies Are Window Dressing', some of the accounting Big Four firms are taken to task for just this kind of lip service.
Somehow this all seems connected to 'The World Map of Happiness' blog posting by Guy Kawasaki. This map, constructed by Adrian G. White, a University of Leicester psychologist, and based on data from UNESCO, the CIA, the New Economics Foundation, the World Health Organization (WHO) and many more organizations, shows the USA ranking at number 23 on the world map of happiness. What's remarkable to me is that countries I know very little about have ranked higher - such as The Seychelles (#20), Brunei (#9), and Malta (#14).
What would it take to put America in the top 20? Perhaps work/life satisfaction issues are as good a place to start as any.