Chasing Work-Life Balance: How Organizations Need to Change to Meet Employee Needs

Maryam Taheri
9 min readMay 22

The pandemic has caused a huge shift in the dialogue around the office, even after lockdowns were lifted and people were physically able to return to in-person work. People realized they were burned out, couldn’t spend time with their families, or were stuck in jobs that didn’t care about them or allow them opportunities for professional fulfillment. The Great Resignation drove this point home for thousands of organizations across the country: employees are being more assertive about their needs, and companies that want to stay competitive will have to adapt to keep up.

Current State of Work-Life Balance in Organizations

Traditional workplace culture is outdated.. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, worker hours were unregulated, focused on completing a certain job rather than working a set number of hours, varied with the seasons, and had frequent pauses for rest, meals, and socializing. Working hours peaked in the Industrial Revolution, when workers began to work for larger and larger corporate industrialists who insisted on grueling work hours, and then settled around the 40 hour work week in the 1920’s in response to aggressive moves by labor unions. Henry Ford helped popularize the specifically-40 hour workweek, claiming that he had discovered the longer working hours didn’t lead to an increase in productivity, and in 1940, the 40-hour workweek became US law.

However, these days, the 40-hour workweek doesn’t make a ton of sense. Most Americans work slightly over 40 hours a week, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with the median American salary sitting just at or below the income threshold for “middle class” in most American cities and suburbs, many families need two incomes in order to stay afloat — but the 40 hour workweek presupposed someone (usually the women) staying at home, doing housework and childcare and cooking all the meals. Working forty hours or more per week on top of household responsibilities leaves people very little time or energy to unwind, connect with friends, or engage with their communities.

The lack of flexibility in the workweek is a major contributor to burnout, but on the flip side, employees with flexible work options reported…

Maryam Taheri

Certified Coach, Founder, Advisor, Mindset + Leadership Expert, and Dog Mom