The 5 Biggest Lies In HR… (#5 – Work/Life Balance)

That’s right. I’m here today not to give you the normal PR spin about how strategic the HR function can be, but instead to call B.S. on the biggest lies in HR. It’s not that HR people want to lie, it’s just that we’ve created our own prison: urban myths developed over last 20 years as the HR function has matured.

As a result, we’re trapped. We’ve spawned narratives that make the HR function appear like a cross between Mother Teresa and Stuart Smalley, while the team members we serve need more tough love, a cross between Jack Welch and Dennis Miller.

You know, that little thing called the truth, effectively washed down with a bit of leadership, personality and at times, humor.

Here's the fifth biggest lie in HR:

Lie #5: We’re responsible for the work/life balance of team members. I believe it was a man named Jack Welch who pissed of a bunch of HR pros at SHRM 2009 in New Orleans by riffing that “there’s no such thing as work/life balance, there are work/life choices”. I’ve never met a star who didn’t absolutely outwork the competition for promotions, yet still our HR universe talks endlessly about the search for balance. If you’re a regular team member reading this, the reality is that the business world is chaotic, and everyone’s kind of winging it to a certain extent. Most companies try to keep staffing levels relative to the work at hand (more revenue always helps in that regard!), but it’s always going to feel like a free-for-all at times. 

The Truth: You’re responsible for your own work/life balance, and if you want more money, promotions and fame, you’re going to have to work harder than those around you. That holds true even if you’re as smart as Al Gore, who had to work really hard to create the Internet and get invited to SHRM 2010. As neutron Jack says, it’s your choice. Either you work hard and create the Internet, or you don’t.

If you’re a good HR pro and don’t feel like you subscribe to this lie, I’ve got one question for you:

If you don’t actively pitch the lies outlined above, do you actively preach the truth?

If the answer is no, you’ve got work to do before you’re part of the solution.

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