Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Work-life balance: yesterday and today

Hopefully at this time of year you are enjoying some much needed time off, followed by a stretch of workload that falls well below the typical summer stress line. The nature of this profession allows us to build a seasonal quality of life that often leads to a matching imbalance. Experienced superintendents and industry workers have developed a network of supporters and a system of routines to deal with the nature of the job. How did you accomplish those tasks? If you are like me when I was new to the industry, you worked hard for a very long time to adjust, and those closest to you, friends and family, needed to adjust with you to strike that balance. What about your new employees, who is assisting them to find a balance? What steps are being taken to at your facility to help employees be as successful outside of the workplace as they are within?

There are often similar steps taken to acclimate new employees into the team at your facility. Training and encouragement bolstered by proper compensation and benefits are basic tools to get the process moving. Recognition and empowerment by you and staff can increase the likelihood of a new employee succeeding as part of a team within the workplace. What steps are taken to help with the work-life balance beyond the out-of-bounds stakes?

I continue to hear of younger, talented professionals moving out of the industry to different careers. While lack of upward job mobility may well be a reason, don’t overlook the difficulty of work-life balance. Traits of the younger generations do little to mirror the needs and historical workload of our industry. How would you describe the hours you put in at the course when you began? Would all day-every day be accurate? Time and flexibility are a priority to the employees entering our industry. As much as we value our personal time and family needs, the younger generations entering the workforce most likely will have to have it. Flexibility may well be the key to making that happen. Working sun-up to sun-down is more indicative of a superintendent’s passion than a profession. Developing the golf industry as a passion may not happen in the first week, month or year. By then, the work-life balance may well be out of whack. Do you make it clear what the expectations are when they begin? Your recognition of their needs, and their understanding of your expectations should be on the table at the start. Can you be creative enough in scheduling for a promising young turf talent to thrive and attain that passion that drives us all?

Leadership and motivation are important tools of successful superintendents, and understanding generational traits of employees can assist with their use. Encouraging employees to be creative, empowering them to utilize their talents, and respecting them as people will go a long way towards their inclusion as a team member. Just knowing that what they value most could be the one thing that creates success for a new hire. While personal time might be the hardest item to provide, it may just end up being the most critical to your people.

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