Solving the Work-Life Balance Challenge: Achievable or Inconceivable?

The title of a recent article at says it all: “It’s Time To Kill The Fantasy That Is Work-Life Balance.” Why fantasy? Because the word “balance” implies two opposing forces, equal in weight, that offset each other perfectly. As any modern-day worker who’s awoken at 3am to participate in an international conference call knows, this is a fallacy. With companies running lean, customer demands growing more complex, and technology enabling us to stay connected even on vacation, the notion of some kind of Zen-like balance between work and life is rapidly becoming obsolete.

The degradation of work-life balance has serious implications for organizations and employees. A recent study conducted by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, for example, found that those who work in high-stress jobs with little control are more likely to die sooner than those who have more control over and balance in their work. What’s more, although “more people are working from home than ever before, 70% of the American workforce still struggles to find a work-life balance, which could have negative health impacts over the long run,” writes Jarod Lindzon at

As with many traditional ideas and theories about work, it’s time we looked at work-life balance with fresh eyes. We’ve all heard (and likely tried) the well-meaning yet ultimately impractical exhortations from the so-called experts: get more sleep, eat a healthy diet, refuse to work on the weekend, switch off your laptop at the same time every evening, etc. Is this the best we can do? Or are there more compelling recommendations out there that better align to today’s reality?

Fortunately, there are. In this thoughtful and engaging presentation, you will learn the most current thinking about work-life balance, starting with the mental, emotional and physical perils of overworking as well as a crucial redefinition of the concept from one of “balance” to one of “integration” or “fit.” You will understand how the idea of two puzzle pieces fitting together harmoniously is a more accurate representation of the work-life relationship than a scale balanced ever so delicately. A spirited review of contemporary research will follow, including recent – and often counterintuitive – findings published in Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, Nature, and more. For example, recent research by Professors Brianna Caza, Lakshmi Ramarajan, Erin Reid, and Stephanie Creary (published in Harvard Business Review) suggests that the key to work-life balance is learning “how to manage our portfolio of different identities and the expectations that come with them.” A 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey reported that 82% of participants expressed a positive impact on overall well-being, health and happiness, and an 81% impact on their productivity, when their employer fosters an environment of flexibility. These are just some of the fascinating findings that will be explored, along with their implications for attendees. Attendees will walk away understanding the value of incorporating this data into their talent strategies, and how that can influence strategic actions within the organization that relate to turnover rates, cost per hire, retention, etc.

The session will conclude with the most interesting and unconventional suggestions for achieving work-life balance, from the specific timing of breaks (based on neuroscience) to unusual yet highly successful family-friendly work polices. A discussion of how attendees can begin incorporating them immediately into their own lives will finish out the session in lively fashion.


Michael Brenner Ed.D., President, Right Chord Leadership

Leading from the Heart, Supporting with Spine

Thank you to our session sponsor:

Exude, Inc.

Heart of a Leader: Driving Results with Passion and Empathy; From the Industrial Age to the ever-present Digital Age, the role of leadership has evolved with changing shifts in social, cultural, and economic pressures. What has remained constant is how important leadership is to motivate employees, inspire teams, and deliver optimal results. Why is leadership still as popular today as it was over 50 years ago? In this interactive session, Dr. Hughes discusses what employees want from leaders and how the most effective leaders focus as much on an employee’s wellbeing as they do their organization’s growth and profitability. Finding balance between empathy and discipline can be challenging, but when a leader strikes that harmony, greatness can be achieved. Whether you are a newly promoted leader or an established, experienced executive, this session will help you explore what it takes to lead from the heart while executing goals with clarity and rigor.

This session will:
  • Introduce communication methods that assist leaders facilitate more effective conversations that lead to results
  • Discuss how leaders can clearly and firmly express their position in the face of opposition
  • Present the importance of charisma and how leaders can share impactful stories with others.
  • Demonstrate how leaders can help others engage in critical thinking.

Charity Hughes, PhD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Exective Coach, Pathfinder Leadership Group, LLC

The Trust Dance

Human Resources strives to be a strategic partner to business leaders, but being strategic doesn’t automatically make HR effective. Having a trusting relationship between HR and business partners is critical for the success of HR’s influence on key leaders. During this session, we will look at the role of Trust in the interactions between HR and their business partners, and what factors influence whether HR professionals are considered Trusted Advisors. These factors include not only behaviors, but also such things as organizational structure, culture, and role definitions. We will explore ways in which attendees can cultivate effective relationships both up and done the ladder to influence organizational actions. Finally, we will look at what actions HR can take to begin or continue the process of becoming a Trusted Advisor.


Lorraine McCamley, Owner, Team Development Concepts, LLC