Work/Life Balance: The Mix Is Important
By Evan Coulter
With summer wrapping up here in Colorado, I’ve been thinking about the all-important work-life balance. It’s easy to give lip service to the idea of having a balanced personal life combined with a satisfying (and sane) work life, but I believe it’s an important issue to examine.
I did some Googling and found a recent survey that discovered only 25 percent of American employees took all of their vacation days last year. Just 25 percent! And 15 percent didn’t take any of the days they had earned. Not one day.
I truly believe when either our personal life or work life is out of balance, both parts of our lives suffer. We can become tired, burned out, restless. Taking a vacation to a beautiful national park, the mountains, the beach or beyond gives everyone a chance to recharge their batteries.
The other day, I was indoor rock climbing at a local rec center. There was one section that was really giving me some trouble. I tried it over and over, finally willing myself to get past the tough part. When I descended, my climbing partner said, “Hey, that would have been a lot easier if you had used your legs.” Without even realizing it, I had tried to muscle through the climbing problem with arm strength alone.
Without time away from the office, I believe team members (myself included) can drain themselves so much that it’s like my climbing story: we depend on only one part of our skills, training or experience. The result is stress and fatigue. We don’t bring our complete selves to the table where creativity, strategy and determination are needed.
I try to live this idea of work/life balance at UCEC. First off, I take vacations. I try to plan something special for my family so we’re not at home, if possible. Then, when I am away from the office, my wife and I have agreed to check our email for a very limited amount of time per day. If something takes more time than we have allotted, we reach out to colleagues to handle the situation.
I also try to create an environment where our team members can take vacations that matter to them. Early each year, starting in March, I ask our supervisors to talk to their employees and collect their vacation plans. This task helps with scheduling in the summer, of course. It also sends a signal that UCEC expects our employees to take their time they have earned. We want our employees to take a break and rest; with proper planning and dedicated colleagues, the shop will continue producing top-quality products in their absence.
Here’s hoping you were able to enjoy some time away this summer.
Evan is UCEC’s Vice President of Operations.
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