Take control of your own balance, says expert

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Despite spruiking work/ life balance policies, many firms are still losing top talent by not ‘walking the walk’.

But according to Lisa Gazis, NSW managing director at Mahlab recruitment, it’s a two way street.  She said employees should take responsibility for their life balance and draw the line when enough is enough.

A common mistake is not bringing work life balance issues up with management before deciding to move on.

While the sigma around ‘switching off’ and appearing uncommitted is somewhat to blame, Gazis said firms successfully retaining talent are facilitating environments supporting a balanced lifestyle.  Some firms are even keeping an eye on staff to ensure that lawyers aren’t losing control of their work life balance by working unsustainable hours.

“From my observations the most successful firms , consult with staff to understand their needs and work to put  in place policies and programmes that meet staff needs,” Gazis told Australasian Lawyer.

“These include policies such as flexible work arrangements, paid parental leave, part time work, casual work and leave without pay.”

She said firms with sustainable policies are recognising the risks of not providing lawyers with balance and are encouraging lawyers to take long weekends and short leave after busy periods.

“Increasingly, lawyers are choosing firms on potential work/life balance,” Gazis said.

“Many lawyers, particularly young lawyers, have observed the impact of working long unsustainable hours and do not want to compromise their enjoyment of life, their family and friends, their hobbies, health and productivity.

“They draw the line at environments recognised as tilting work/life balance in unhealthy or unsustainable way.”

Gazis said the most attractive firms are embracing technology to facilitate a flexible work environment.

“Smart phones, emails and skype have meant that lawyers can work more flexibly without having to be in the office,” she said.

“The need to be in the office until the job is done is no longer as critical as it had been previously. Many lawyers can still complete work without being physically present in the office.”