Building a Culture of Work/Life Balance

With more and more to do and technology allowing us to work from various places (nearly anywhere), work has become a constant presence for many.  This pressure added to the stresses and busyness of everyday life, while attempting to get everything we need to get done in a day can quickly become overwhelming and seemingly impossible.

The HR team at George Mason University is implementing a wide range of programming and resources to help employees navigate the ins and outs of life and work while focusing on their well being.   They have designed the programs and events around Gallup’s five essential elements of well being:  Career well being (liking what you do); social well being (having strong relationships); financial well being (managing your economic life); physical well being (good health ad energy); and community well being (engagement with where you work and live).

Every Wednesday, the campuses hosts a 30-minute lunchtime group walk with a designated “walk leader”.  Anyone wanting to lead the walk may sign up online and walkers meet at a designated start spot.  The leader may take the group anywhere on campus.  What do you think; would CFAES employees be up for a walking group once a week?

If outdoor exercise isn’t for you, at Mason they mapped out one-mile “trails” within campus buildings.  Would this appeal to CFAES employees?

They also created employee resource groups – working mothers, working fathers, a needlework group (they do charitable projects outside the university and make baby hats in school colors which are given to new parents at the university), a vegan society, a group for administrative professionals, an adult caregivers group, and more. What do you think; why types of resource groups would be beneficial to CFAES employees?

They provide vendor information via a database on in-home caregiver for childcare, eldercare, pet care, and home care.  The Employee Assistance Program, EAP, provides services and resources for child and elder care, as well as, referrals.  To schedule a meeting with EAP call 800-678-6265 or email, or visit the website

The HR team has partnered with financial service providers and other experts to bring seminars and resources to campus and online with the goal of providing opportunities for faculty and staff to increase financial knowledge.  The Employee Assistance Program, EAP, provides services financial counseling and an employee emergency fund for short-term financial crises.  To schedule a meeting with EAP call 800-678-6265 or email, or visit the website

The difference between perks and culture is that perks are a material investment to achieve short term happiness, whereas culture is an emotional investment.

If our HR team wants to work to change the culture we should:

  • Engage senior leadership, faculty and staff in the effort
  • Listen, listen, listen
  • Collaborate when and wherever possible
  • Keep track of results and share the data with leadership on at least an annual basis
  • Be flexible and patient

Getting started is the most difficult step, so to get the ball rolling we could:

  • Reach out to university partners
  • Reach out to community partners
  • Survey the faculty and staff to find out what they need
  • Create a working group to look at options
  • Have a conversation with senior leadership
  • Brainstorm low-cost/no-cost well being options that are easy to implement (like a walking group)

Let’s show we care about our employees overall well being!

The Higher Education Workplace, “Building an Organizational Culture of Work/Life Balance and Well being”,  Spring 2017

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