30-day pledge developed to improve work-life effectiveness

During the inaugural period of the Johns Hopkins Work-Life Pledge, one- third of participants committed to making more time for fun as part of their pledge.

The Work-Life Pledge pioneers chose best practices in five categories that are known to improve work-life effectiveness and implemented them for 30 days. Each week, they received an email with suggestions and encouragement from Michelle Carlstrom, senior director of the Office of Work, Life and Engagement.

Carlstrom says she believes that a daily focus on work-life is the path to effectiveness. "In addition to work and personal stressors, it's the compilation of choices we make every day that can improve or hinder our work-life progress," she says. "To help faculty and staff think about work-life effectiveness daily, we developed the Work-Life Pledge."

The Work-Life Pledge is an opportunity for faculty and staff to choose from best practices in five categories, among which are increasing quality communication, managing technology, and working with a work-life perspective. Individuals who take the pledge select from a menu of strategies within each category to customize and commit to an action plan. After 30 days, participants indicate the best practices they successfully implemented. Those who complete the checklist at the beginning and the end of the month earn a prize and the opportunity to receive future emails that provide information and resources about work-life effectiveness.

To build a community of champions for work-life culture, the office will keep track of individuals who repeat the pledge and continue to focus on work-life effectiveness. These champions will be asked if their names can be listed on the Work, Life and Engagement Pledge Honor Roll.

"Taking the Work-Life Pledge is an opportunity to put resources and knowledge into action, personalize your work-life approach, and become a champion for work-life culture at Johns Hopkins," Carlstrom says.

Ian Reynolds, director of Worklife and Community Programs, says, "The Office of Work, Life and Engagement understands that the journey to architect one's work-life fit is a personal one." That is why, he says, "we offer programs and services to meet faculty and staff where they are, lending support across the lifespan from early career to retirement."

The Office of Work, Life and Engagement plans to run the pledge on a monthly basis. Those who do not feel ready to commit are welcome to join the community of support and to practice some of the strategies in preparation for taking the pledge in the future. "It takes time to work ourselves out of balance, and it takes time to realign and work ourselves back to a healthier place. Our goal is to be inclusive and create an environment where everyone can practice work-life strategies," Carlstrom says. The Work-Life Pledge emerged from the knowledge that Johns Hopkins' nationally recognized portfolio of work-life programs and services—which recently garnered a Work-Life Seal of Distinction for the fourth consecutive year—would not alone create work-life effectiveness for faculty and staff, Carlstrom says. Taking the Work-Life Pledge, she says, can help individuals think about work-life effectiveness daily and foster a work-life culture.

The next pledge period for faculty and staff begins March 1.

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