We often hear people talk about “work-life” balance as if our work and personal lives are constantly at odds with one another. Most of the literature and conversations around the topic tend to focus heavily on the negative aspects of having to split one’s time between work and personal responsibilities. However, if we reframe our perspective to view our work life and personal life as mutually reinforcing to one another rather than in competition for our time, we might feel less pressure and stress in trying to find a constant balance.
In more recent years, management scholars have identified the theory of work-family enrichment to describe how our roles at home and work can mutually reinforce one another to help make us more well-rounded. The key premise behind work-family enrichment is that resources or skills gained in one area can be transferred to other areas of our life to improve our overall sense of balance. So, our experiences in one role can help enrich our quality of life in another role.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed in your person life – see if you can apply some of the skills you’ve learned at work (like managing your co-workers) – or vice versa. Reframing your perspective might have a positive impact on the way you approach situations.
If you’d like to learn more about the work-family enrichment theory, check out this article: Greenhaus, Jeffrey and Powell, Gary. 2006. “When work and family are allies: A theory of work-family enrichment.” Academy of Management Review 31(1): 72-92.