November 5, 2015 — Work-life issues have been driving some big decisions in politics lately. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who is now Speaker of the House, made it clear that he will not give up family time in his new role. Vice President Joe Biden announced that he will not run for President, in part because he and his family need time to heal from the death of his son, Beau.
Will this personal focus on making sure that work allows time for life reach the masses, and add flexibility to the schedules of Americans everywhere? Now that these two men have made work-life balance a hot topic, I hope that the momentum they have built will lead to a shift in America’s work culture, starting with their own staffs and extending to workers across the country and across industries.
As a former congressional staffer, I’ve had a front-row seat to the busy lives of congress members and their staff. Late night votes, hefty workloads, and last-minute projects are not exactly synonymous with flexibility and family time. However, I always felt that any personal sacrifice was truly worth the reward of helping people and making a difference. It is also important to point out that there are members of congress who do everything in their power to provide for work-life effectiveness, and I was lucky enough to experience that first hand. There are many jobs outside politics that have a 24/7 culture, where employees may feel discouraged from taking time off. The good news is that, no matter what the industry, work cultures can change when role models stand up, speak up, and set goals for getting there. When leaders like Ryan and Biden model the importance of this critical issue, everybody has the potential to win.
The Speaker of the House and the Vice President are certainly not the only two American workers who desire more family time and a better work-life balance, and they are not the only two who deserve it. It is my hope that they will keep this important discussion alive by using their influence to call upon employers across America to provide flexibility to all their employees--from cashiers to CEOs.