Leah Weiss talks to BeWell about integrating work and life

Leah Weiss
Leah Weiss

You’ll spend about 90,000 hours of your life working. LEAH WEISS, lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, suggests you make the most of them. BeWell spoke with her about how you can use research-based insights to create a thriving work environment.

Are the traditional boundaries between “work” and “personal” still relevant?

No; the two can’t be divided. You can’t turn off your personal life like it is a switch. We need to recognize that the challenges that people are experiencing in their personal lives are part of who they are at work. And this isn’t a bad thing. This can make us much more compassionate: more authentic, more relatable, more approachable. If we have an ability to transition between our roles as one integrated person, we’ll be more effective at work and healthier when we get home.

Managers who understand this about employees will be better poised to serve them in meeting their personal and professional goals, increasing their commitment to the organization, and achieving higher engagement levels. Organizations that acknowledge the humanity of employees and provide the compassion and flexibility to let them play their various roles to the best of their ability have less absenteeism – skipping work days – and less presenteeism – being there physically but not mentally. Work and the rest of life are all life. Separating them artificially hurts everyone and negatively impacts the bottom line.

Why is this dichotomy destructive to mental health and professional success?

Attempting to push life or work stresses aside simply adds to our overall stress. Your work colleagues should know what is happening in your life and your family should understand your work culture as well. Suppression is not healthy in any respect. Our cognitive resources are hijacked when we spend so much of our energy suppressing.

Furthermore, suppression negatively impacts our health. We would be much better off learning how to relate to emotions and tackling head-on any challenging relationships or circumstances — whether at work or outside. This path will lead not only to greater productivity, but also to enhanced well-being and a more purpose-driven life. This approach of openly dealing with challenges as a part of both personal and professional growth transforms the headaches of our lives into a journey filled with meaning, growth and learning.

What practical, evidence-based strategies can you offer to improve both my work and my relationship with work?

My number one recommendation is to find your purpose: Think about why your work matters to you, to the world. Also, think about the bigger role that you play on a project or within an organization. Without you, that project or company could not move forward. As soon as you realize that the part you play is significant, your workday and your relationship with work will improve.

Read the entire article on the BeWell website.