Here's why managers should stop pushing their employees to achieve work-life balance

Brad Stulberg, coauthor of “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success,” explains why it’s more important for employees to know their limits than it is for them to achieve work-life balance. Following is a transcript of the video.

Brad Stulberg: Work-life balance, and this term “balance” gets thrown around quite a bit, and I’m not actually quite sure that balance is what everyone should be after. And I say that because to me balance implies having everything kind of in equal proportions in its place and I think the concern with balance is can that very quickly turn into just going through the motions, right? So I go to work, I hang out with my family, I watch TV, I exercise, and I repeat.

So to me it’s not so much actually about striving for balance, but more so striving for self-awareness, to have a good sense of how people on your team are feeling and when they might need a break. So I don’t necessarily think that there’s anything wrong with going all in for periods of time. I think the issue is when people are pushed to go all in all the time, and they’re going all in not based on their own volition.

And even when someone is going all in based on their own internal drive, a really good manager can see, “Hey Brad, you’ve been doing this for a week, that’s ok, but after a month, as much as you’re into the work, if you really want this to be sustainable you should probably pull back.”

I do think that there’s a role for managers to prevent burnout, but I think it’s less about encouraging a formulaic balance and more about trying to instill in your employees self-awareness to understand when they’re pushing too hard or when they’re pushing and they don’t really want to be.

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