At Meta, there were company-wide surveys twice a year, called “Pulse”, to learn about experiences of people in teams/orgs and the company.
The leader of my organization asked me to lead the investigation about the Work-Life Balance to understand the issue better one year. After conducting multiple small group interviews with all members of my organization, I discovered insights that were never captured in surveys.
My goal was simply to listen to each team member and understand their unmet needs better. Figuring out solutions or brainstorming wasn’t my goal. With clear ground rules including confidentiality and no pressure on the outcome, people felt safe enough to share their stories honestly — how they suffered and why.
What Were Under the Ice of Work-Life Balance?
1. What Work-Life Balance Really Means
It wasn’t about having the perfect balance in work hours or workload. What people really meant was flexibility & autonomy. They wanted to work in flexible schedule (flexibility) and feel empowered to define how to work (autonomy).
2. Suffering from Not Being Present
People suffered that their minds were constantly “on”; thinking about work during non-work hours and vice versa. Because they couldn’t be present to most moments during the day, they weren’t feeling productive and couldn’t feel the sense of achievement neither in life nor at work.
3. How People Want to Feel
When people felt that they were attentive to both life and work, they felt the sense of wellbeing at work. They wanted to feel safe and understood at work when they couldn’t prioritize work at times to take care of family and life.
Efforts Beyond Surveys
Work-Life Balance is a misnomer; moreover, it contains so much uncharted area under its iceberg. Leaders need to make conscious efforts to understand this part with genuine curiosity beyond surveys.