Time for a “One Life” Policy in the Workplace

There is no such thing as “Home Life” and “Work Life“.

We only have one life.

Traditional employers would like their team members to “leave your personal life at home”, while at the same time asking salaried team members to come in early, stay late, bring work home with them and check company email, read required books, or take phone calls outside of the office.

Now we’re asking our team members to help us engage in social media at all times (or at least we should be).

When does it end?

One Life Policy by Aaron Biebert

Obviously I don’t have a problem with taking work home, hence the 8pm Warrior concept. However, I do see a problem with the artificial line that some employers draw in the sand when you enter “their time.”

This often means:

  • Don’t take personal phone calls at work
  • Leave your troubles at the door
  • Don’t go on Facebook during work (unless we tell you to)
  • Don’t check your personal email at the office

…and other rules governing work life.

We only have one life, and ignoring that fact will cause problems for business leaders.

Here’s why:

  1. A “Caring Culture” is a more profitable one!
  2. Faking emotions causes major problems
  3. You can’t build a Culture of Caring if you don’t care about your team members first
  4. Caring about your team means caring about their whole life, not just work life

Yes, I practice what I preach.

In 2006 when I founded Clear Medical Solutions (Clear Medical Agency, HIM Circle, and the Clear Medical Network) we immediately implemented a “One Life” policy for our salaried office staff that stated:

“As a member of our team, we care about your whole life and recognize that we share a common journey.  Together, we have embarked on an exciting mission, and it will most definitely be a journey that goes home with you when you leave our office.

You only have one life, and even though we ask for a lot of it, we invite you to bring your home life with you to work.  Let us help carry the baggage.  One team, one dream. You are not alone.”

In practical terms this means:

  • Abolishing break time limits (i.e. one hour lunches, 15 minute breaks, etc.)
  • Flexibility with personal challenges (i.e. helping take car to auto shop, sick children, grieving, etc.)
  • Investing time to discuss home life
  • No restrictions on personal calls, checking personal email, or periodic personal use of social media.

In return, you should expect:

  • Your team will check their company emails, engage in company related social media channels, and take work related phone calls at home
  • Your team will be flexible for work challenges that arise (i.e. deadlines, crisis, product/service launches, etc.)
  • Your team will not abuse flexibility and take more than they give.

I know what some of my critics are thinking.  “What a circus!”  “I would love to see how many people abuse this type of policy.”  “How can you manage that?”

That’s the wrong way to think about it.

Bad people will always abuse things.  That’s why I don’t hire bad people.  If you adopt this policy, you have to be prepared to be better at recruiting and firing.  You will have to lead more, manage less.  Our “One Life Policy” went along with our “You Manage Yourself” policy.

At the end of the day it’s still about performance.  You shouldn’t hire or continue to employ people that don’t perform, and a one life policy only helps the responsible members of your team balance their life more successfully and openly.

Your employees have already implemented the policy on their own, they just are doing it secretly on their mobile devices, during “sick time”, and sneaking around to do what is natural.  Living one life.

It’s time you help them.

Have a great “one life”,

Aaron@Biebert

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Published by Aaron Biebert

I'm a director, film/video exec producer, leader & 8pm Warrior. I am passionately chasing my goals at all times. I'm listening. Let's talk!

15 comments on “Time for a “One Life” Policy in the Workplace”

  1. Love this Aaron! Productivity actually increases if we let folks be whole people at work. Take a call or check an e-mail, so what? Get it done and get if off your mind and then get back to work. The alternative is a distracted worker. Great stuff. Bret

  2. Paul I definitely agree that more businesses should adopt a similar policy, particularly in industries that rely on relationships, creativity, and teamwork. Manufacturing might not work as well, but there are still parts of it that would work.

    Thanks for the comment Paul!

    Aaron@Biebert

  3. Aaron, this is by far one of the more stellar blog posts you have offered to your readership. I love your thoughts and HR policies. It is irrational (yes, there, I have said it) for companies to continue to think employees can “park” their home life at the business door while continuing to infringe upon the rights of The Families of their employees to receive equal time for attention within their own home environment. Love this!!!

  4. Cheri, thanks for making my day! Now I just need to get all my other posts up to this level. :-)

    Thanks for the thoughts. I love seeing the thought of other 8pm Warriors.

  5. Aaron – Love your strategy… But it seems so hard to get big business to wake up. To implement such ideology a company would have to have made such a cultural shift throughout the organization.

    Also- you’d need buy-in from management and employees from the first day of work as it seems you have suggested…
    Personally – I’d love to see companies exalt the human side of their workforce as you have done here.. just wondering if there is middle ground and how a company can start making the shift.

    I’ve often found companies and pioneers who are headed down this road generally experience push-back from stockholders in larger organizations. What is the first step in your opinion?

    I feel that the more interviews I do – the more it seems that flexibility is the starting point. Glad I found you!

    1. Hi Judy, glad I found you too. Worklife is one of the areas that I am passionate about and I think that as the labor market improves and the Boomers retire, it will become an even bigger topic.

      First step? Hire/train good leaders that understand people. After that I think it’s important to train all team members how to be good employees. I started a book about that, not sure many exist. :-)

      Some leaders and team members won’t be a good fit, so turnover may be necessary at first. Big organizations are going to have a very difficult time with this because the culture shift is too big for the time strapped leaders to handle. I see this as one of the main reasons why smaller companies may see significant gains against their larger competitors as Gens X & Y grow into their role as the dominant generations. Talent will be hard to find and I think a “One Life” policy will be key to remaining competitive.

      As for shareholders/board members…that’s why I believe that there is still a place for bravery in a modern world. The CEO will need to have the courage to face a changing world.

      Let’s keep in touch!

    1. Stan, it depends on what sort of business a person is leading. I probably would not be a successful leader in a manufacturing/production facility.

  6. Culture and moral character can be difficult to predict – character tends not to be a fixed factor. Professionals (rank-file and managers) can turn cagey (in a bad way) on a dime – but especially the ambitious and over-confident. [laughing] The French in Bucharest have been known to employ astrologers, reiki masters, and tarot readers in candidate screening. But the results (that I personally know about) were not better than my own traditional approach to gauge character and self-discipline.

    Still, I would like to believe…

  7. The ideal personality type for this kind of arrangement is the sucker. The emotional one. The one that doesn’t take risks and prefers to lose out than stress out. The one that always gets ripped off. The one that avoids confrontation and upsetting people. The one that is always surprised when they heard that someone else they regarded well did something wrong or unkind. The one that gives second, third and fourth chances. But, obviously, they can never be allowed to manage or supervise.

    Hope that helps. [grin]

  8. Sounds similar to the results-only work environment.

    For most jobs, there simply is not enough incentive to produce results. As long as the employee warms a chair for eight hours, the employer is willing to provide the benefits of employment.

    In a results-only work environment, the benefits of employment are tied directly to the employee’s results, not time spent at a desk. “Finished your project early? Of course you can have an extra week of vacation! In fact, I don’t care if I never see you here again as long as your work gets done well and on time, and I can reach you when I need to.”

    Employers should be primarily concerned with results. That’s the purpose of employment. As you said, however, this requires more leadership by the directors.

    I know I would be more productive if I wasn’t paid for mostly warming a chair.

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