These days, the topic of work-life balance is more and more the subject of discussion. But the way I think about it, “balance” can mean different things for different people. Personally, I don’t mind working long hours – my passion for what I do and the bold mission we are working towards keep me engaged. The key is that I strongly believe there is more to me than my job. That’s why I intentionally create time for the people I love and activities that give me energy and self-realization outside of work. It’s also important for the long-term. When I retire, it would be nice to already have activities and people that continue to excite me and make me feel complete.
One thing I learned the hard way was that I needed to diagnose myself and get a feel for when to push myself and when to pause. That’s how I discovered the importance of proactive selfcare, instead of trying to catch up on your own care after burnout or an unexpected sickness.
The first step is realizing you’re the one in charge. It’s actually quite empowering. The person who needs to put your needs first is you. Then, and only then, does it matter what support tools and resources that you have or that your company offers. After all, no number of corporate programs can force someone to take advantage of them. Of course, there are cases when an employee may need proactive support from those around. However, most of us can manage if we take it seriously.
For me what works is being intentional about my time. I also know what gives me joy and makes me stronger. Now, I think differently about obstacles. I made a shift from thinking ‘I cannot make it work’ to ‘what needs to happen to make it work?’ It is about defining your non-negotiables and drawing the boundaries.
Here’s an example: When I had young kids, there was so much on my plate. I was working abroad, had a job I wanted to do well in, a family (including a toddler and a baby) who I wanted to spend time with, and my own personal needs and aspirations. So, I had to decide where in my full schedule I could find the time for myself. I prioritized and was flexible. Sometimes, I did yoga with my coach after 10 p.m. when my kids were in bed. Or, during their Saturday afternoon nap, I’d meet a friend for coffee, go hunt for beautiful places to take pictures or practice on my piano. Every Friday, my husband and I went out as a couple and we had a special place for the whole family for Saturday breakfast. These simple things allowed me to be complete and feel energized. I could distract and heal myself. I invested as much or as little time as I could, catching every opportunity. But the entire time, I was very clear about moments that could not be compromised.
Ultimately, your own mental health is something that you need to prioritize. All that said, I am also proud of the role we play in the lives of our employees as a company.
Our people use the on-site health centers where no-cost health coaching is available. Employees can join virtual or in-person group exercise classes offered through the onsite fitness center, and access recorded classes at any time. Beyond that, we have a range of resources like meditation, yoga, webinars on topics like self-care and resilience, and a digital wellness platform that provides support for employees dealing with stress, sleep issues and mental health concerns.
I know a lot of people here who are doing things outside of work and achieving brilliant results, including running triathlons or painting works of art. In fact, we even encourage our people to volunteer – with two community days per year. We’re empowering our people to do whatever they feel gives them energy and creates a personally rewarding space, so their life isn’t all about work.
As leaders, we need to help our teams find something beyond just a balance between work and life. It’s about more than that. We’re creating a workplace where our people are free to find fulfillment in ways that work best for them and to make their own well-being a priority.
If you’re interested in working for a company that will give you the freedom to discover what works best for you, join me at reynoldsamerican.com/careers or follow my page for future blogs.
Anna Dolgikh – SVP & Chief Human Resources and Inclusion Officer