Work-Life Balance: Having It All

Until recently, finding a healthy balance between one’s job and personal life was a luxury that most workers couldn’t afford. They were too busy trying to survive in an economy that depended more on physical labor than technology. Today, a fundamental shift in worker attitudes and the evolution of a technology-driven economy have converged to create an unprecedented environment where employees can, for the most part, have it all; i.e., a fulfilling, well-paying job plus quality time to devote to one’s family and personal passions.

Finding a happy work-life balance has become a priority for more and more Americans, particularly those born in the last 30 years or so. After experiencing the absence of parents who worked too much and fell victim to the dangers of workplace stress, this generation wants something more. For example, Daniel, a  graduate of Carolina Career College, decided that he couldn’t have solid relationships with his children if he continued working 60 hours a week in a grocery store and needed a career change.

So, what types of jobs allow this kind of work-life balance? A recent survey by Forbes magazine listed the 29 best occupations for work-life balance. One-third of these were information technology (IT) positions. But what makes these kinds of jobs ideal for work-life balance?

It is not that IT employees necessarily work fewer hours, but often times their work offers more flexibility. In a separate survey by Forbes, the job of Senior IT Project Manager is the most flexible and best-paying job in America. Ranked 6th on this list is an IT Security Engineer.

One factor that makes these positions so flexible is their acceptance of telecommuting. Information technology jobs can be accomplished by computer and phone from any location, made even easier by the advent of Cloud computing. For example, 26% of Senior IT Project Managers telecommute and 23% of IT Security Engineers do as well. For other positions that require office attendance, IT jobs can often be accomplished on different shifts and schedules.

Of course, most self-supporting adults want full-time jobs, and most employers want full-time employees. Take Timothy, who is also a Carolina Career College graduate. He was working during the week, weekends, and nights as a chef. With a young family, it was hard for him to be away from his wife and kids that often. He preferred a job with more predictable hours that rarely exceed 40 per week.

Another measure of flexibility is demonstrated in the modern IT working environment. Computer programmers, analysts, help-desk operators, etc., typically work in informal environments where camaraderie and casual dress are common. This team environment makes work less stressful, more fun, and, in the end, more productive.

Perhaps the most important factor in assessing whether a given job allows a healthy, happy work-life balance is how an employee feels about the work that he/she does. A given job may pay well enough and require only a 40-hour work week, but internal tensions involving the tasks involved and the work environment may simply be too stressful for an employee to endure. These tensions spill over into one’s personal life, threatening family relationships and the worker’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Finding a healthy work-life balance includes having a job that you like. It doesn’t have to be a “dream job,” but it need not be an experience you dread.  In fact, many of Carolina Career College graduates have found that working with computers is what they’ve wanted to do all along.  As Timothy put it: “I’ve always had a passion for computers since I was younger. You have to look toward the future.”

Despite the fact that IT jobs are one of the best ways to achieve a happy, healthy work-life balance, making that transition from the old to the new can be emotionally difficult, particularly for veterans like Uriah: “I was in the Air Force for 10 years. Transitioning from the military to the civilian world is a big difference.”

Helping individuals decide whether they should transition into an IT-related position is part of our mission here at Carolina Career College. Before you begin any course of study, we’ll help you examine all the details and make a career decision that’s right for you.  Our Career Services include mentoring and career coaching, skills assessment, resume development and distribution, exclusive job fairs, and career advancement.

Please call us today at 919-336-1000 to discuss your options.

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