Work-Life Balance, Newly Define

The role of work-life balance in the agency world – especially in communications/PR – has been deliberated for years, but why should clients seek out agency partners who place a high value on it for their teams? In a recent, sponsored MM+M podcast, Sherry Goldberg, president, North America/GCI Health answers that question and more, in a discussion with MM+M’s executive editor, Larry Dobrow.

“In this business, our most valuable asset is people,” Goldberg kicked off the discussion explaining. “This means each person’s ability to think strategically, willingness to work hard and work well with each other. So if people are our prime asset, it makes sense that we keep them in the best shape — mentally, emotionally and even physically.”

While historically the modus operandi of agency life was work work work, as Dobrow pointed out, the pandemic has shone on a light on the importance of the office supporting a happier and healthier lifestyle. But does that mean less focus on the work and more on the individual?

“An agency can foster a culture of work-life balance, while at the same time maintaining a high level of productivity for clients,” said Goldberg. “It’s important as companies go through changes in environment and growth, or in some cases shrinkage, that empathy and investment in people remain. Whether there’s a pandemic, or you get three new clients and have to figure out a way to grow, you also have to ensure that you are encouraging people to take time away to connect and recharge before burning out.”

As for returning to the office, “it’s going to be another interesting journey and one I think about day and night,” said Goldberg. She went on to explain that one of the key learnings for her during the pandemic, was the ways in which people have different ‘life’ priorities — a concept that was amplified while reading a study that called for an expansion of the work-life balance to focus on the ‘life’ part and that ‘life’ is not confined to the typical family role.

“It’s not a one size fits all,” said Goldberg. “When people refer to work-life balance there’s an automatic association to people with children, but for some people that might mean they’re living with their parents and focused on care, for those who live alone, it may mean taking their dog for a walk in the middle of the day. So, I do think we’ll come back to our physical offices, but we’ll do it by supporting our staff in individualized ways wherever we can.”

It makes sense, that delivering people-centric service, demands understanding what being people-centric means.

“We can’t be all work all the time if we’re going to be people-centric which means having the best people in the industry for our clients,” concluded Goldberg. “We need to support everyone holistically.”