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While much media space is given to the plight of the busy working mum, Phillip Gould suggests that when it comes to broadening work-life balance opportunities in the workplace, men are often left to fend for themselves.

Active ImageOver the past decade business leaders have focused on a variety of approaches to enhance business and individual performance.

Women have been a key target, many programs and initiatives have been aimed at helping women gain access to opportunity and improving their performance in the workplace. And yes, there is still more work to be done.

But what has happened to our men during this period? Life for men continues to change rapidly and dramatically—workplace changes, expectations and demands; work-life balance and priorities; economic changes and the role and status of men in work and society. Work plays a vital and sometimes dangerous role in men's lives. For men, work is intrinsically linked with their sense of identity, success/failure, purpose, self-worth, self-esteem, and sense of optimism.

Help Line

In the pursuit of women-friendly environments, many managers have forgotten or make assumptions about their male employees. Recent analysis of the national phone counselling service, Mensline, revealed that of the 8,500 calls received on average per month, 87 percent were employed men having trouble coping with relationship and health issues at work and home. It also revealed that more than 90 percent thought their work performance was affected by their inability to deal with major work-life crises.

Our men are not coping with the changes and competing demands facing them. Men are very good at masking or hiding these difficulties, which often manifest in other behavioural areas.

Like women, men need special learning and development programs that allow them to share and explore experiences and issues, and to identify and break dysfunctional habits and patterns of behaviour.

If we want to maximise our business capability, performance and sustainability, we clearly have to build emotionally friendly workplaces for everyone.

It’s time to rattle our consciousness and attitudes about men and move towards a more integrated approach. There needs to be parallel gender development if we are to achieve higher levels of individual/business performance.

*This information has been sourced from an article appearing on the Australian Business Limited website (www.australianbusiness.com.au). Phil Gould is a speaker, writer and professional trainer on men's issues for Hummingbird Consultancy (www.hbird.com.au).

Balance Tips for Men

• Reflect on what is really important to you in your life—what do you really enjoy doing?

• What does ‘success’ mean for you and how does work fit into this?

• Spend quality time with those you love and those who love you.

• Build a life around having many life connections—e.g., a hobby/interest, exercise, community involvement/activity, time with friends, undertake some personal development (not work related), have some spiritual connection—these will ground and re-energise you.

• Have some FUN—be mischievous, watch a comedy, laugh.

• Give yourself permission to have ‘you’ time.

• Talk to other men—they are facing the same challenges.

• Time is not the issue, it’s the quality of the connections that is important.

• Be confident and proud of being a man.

• Get a health check before something falls off.

• It’s okay to say ‘no’.

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