Children - the source of unconditional love, contributing to life’s purpose, and admittedly yes, much debate. In the professional world, the question of whether having children may hinder or benefit one’s career trajectory has become a hotly contested topic.
As someone who is juggling raising two children with a leadership role in HR, I can say that there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
The truth is many employees (especially women) believe their careers stop once they have children. Since the turn of the new decade, it has all been about work-life synergy. Now, this is not to say one should advocate in favour of the elusive work-life balance that we all strive for but rarely achieve.
Rather, work-life synergy fosters an environment where employees can thrive both inside and outside of work, with opportunities to build both soft and hard skills. This approach benefits not only the individual but the company as a whole.
Giving equal weightage
Work-life synergy refers to the ability to create an equilibrium between one’s personal life and professional life in a way that allows them to thrive in both areas. Instead of trying to compartmentalize these two areas, work-life synergy emphasizes the importance of integrating them in a way that allows for greater fulfilment and well-being than simple balance.
Achieving work-life synergy can involve a variety of strategies, including setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care. It can also involve finding ways to incorporate personal interests and passions into one’s work and vice versa.
Stephen Covey, the American author and educator known for his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ says, “Instead of focusing on balancing work and family, it’s better to aim for work-life synergy. In other words, we should work on blending our personal and professional lives so that we can be fully present and fulfilled in both.”
This approach acknowledges that work and personal life are not separate entities but are interconnected and that success in one area can positively impact the other. It encourages individuals to align their values, goals, and priorities in a way that allows them to achieve their full potential in all areas of life.
Women lose out with ‘wage penalty’
As such, work-life synergy refers to the ability to create a delicate balance between one’s personal life and professional life in a way that allows them to thrive in both areas. Instead of trying to compartmentalize these two areas (as it is the case with work-life balance,) work-life synergy emphasizes the importance of integrating them in a way that allows for greater fulfilment and well-being than simple balance.
There are still biases and stereotypes that affect employees with children, particularly women. A report by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) found mothers experience a wage penalty of 4 per cent per child, while fathers experience a wage increase of 6 per cent per child. These biases are rooted in societal expectations and not based on any inherent truth.
Go beyond stereotypes
On the flip side, having children can actually offer unique advantages in the workplace. For example, mothers are often viewed as more responsible and empathetic, qualities that make them strong candidates for leadership roles. Plus, raising children can develop valuable skills like multitasking, time management, and conflict resolution.
By prioritizing work-life synergy, we can break down harmful stereotypes and create a more inclusive and diverse workforce. And by providing appropriate support and resources, employees with children can continue to climb the career ladder and achieve their professional aspirations.
Overall, work-life synergy aims to create a holistic approach to life that enables individuals to achieve greater satisfaction, balance, and success in all areas of their lives. Unexpected challenges and experiences can inspire new skills and propel career growth.
I believe that work-life synergy is the key to unlocking the full potential of both employees and companies.