For many professional women, it can feel difficult to balance a career and a personal life without feeling guilty for missing out on their children’s’ lives. Although the struggle for work/life balance is not new, the specific concerns that professional women have are different from men’s. According to a recent survey by the Harvard Business School (HBS), women are more focused on providing a positive role model in their children’s lives – especially their daughters – and are more concerned with qualifying what quality time with their family looks like. In contrast, men are more concerned with whether they can provide for their families, and view the concept of having a family as a marker of success, without being as concerned with identifying more specific markers of what makes their family life successful.
Ultimately, achieving a work/life balance is the concern for most professionals. This is especially true for women, who struggle to manage both their careers and home lives. In the HBS survey, where business school students interviewed more than 4,000 business executives and 82 leadership course attendees over a five-year period, an alarming trend regarding work/life balance began to show: one executive said it was impossible to have an amazing career, a great family life, and hobbies. “Every single executive confirmed this view in one way or another, and I came to believe that it is the reality of today’s business world,” said one student surveyor.
Although the results sound dire, the truth of the matter is that the business world is made up of more than corporations that are running their employees into the ground. For many people, starting their own business provides the ability to set their own schedules and priorities. In turn, this gives them more leeway to surround themselves with supportive networks, all of which lead to higher satisfaction, both personally and professionally. Here are some reasons why business ownership leads to better work/life balance, especially for women.
As a Business Owner, You Make the Decisions
According to a recent article on job strain, having to deal with high psychological demands at a workplace, without having the latitude to make your own decisions, leads to a variety of health problems – including four times the rate of hypertension and twice the likelihood of suffering major depressive disorder. Although not all jobs in which you work for someone else lack the power to make choices, having autonomy in the decision-making process leads to a greater ability to manage stress.
“The science of demand and control shows us that when you’re in control, you can withstand the pressure,” said MeQuilibrium CEO Jan Bruce in an article for Fortune Magazine, “and perhaps even thrive on it.”
Business Owners Choose Their Own Employees
Reports show that Amazon has a toxic work environment, where employees cry at their desks, and there is a decided lack of empathy or support for employees. One of the most damaging parts of their situation is the stress of anonymous complaints and reports that employees can file against each other. Recent research has shown that this type of anonymous feedback and “tattle telling” leads to an increased amount of stress that can even have an effect on how long a person lives. Researchers at Tel Aviv University found that having supportive coworkers is essential to a longer life, but –surprisingly – a supportive boss doesn’t affect longevity at all.
When working for someone else, there is rarely an ability to choose most or all of your coworkers, leading to potential stress of having to work with toxic people. On the other hand, as a business owner you have the ability to choose your staff, ensuring you can create a supportive network that you can trust – one that will have the values and skills to complement your own.
You Craft Your Work Environment
Business owners have the ability to create their own work environments, and the autonomy to change systems, procedures, hours and even employees if needed to ensure a positive setting, which scientific research shows leads to higher rates of success and productivity, for employers, employees and the bottom line.
Conversely, high-stress environments lead to disengagement. Disengagement causes more accidents, errors and defects, and 37 percent more absenteeism, plus lower productivity, job growth, profitability and share price over time, according to research from the Queen School of Business and the Gallup Organization. The business owner’s ability to create their own work environment gives them the leeway to tailor their professional setting in such a way as to lower stress levels and increase revenue.
You Set Your Priorities and Schedule
For women business owners especially, being able to set your own schedule is an essential piece of business ownership. This may mean leaving work early to pick up children and returning to work after they’ve gone to bed, but the ability to choose their hours eliminates the potential for guilt of not being available for their kids. With the ability to hire employees to cover certain times of day, certain days or even vacations, business ownership offers the flexibility of being able to tailor a work schedule to each person’s values, whether they’re family, down time, or the now-not-so-elusive work/life balance.
For more great content on women in franchising, check out our post “7 Reasons Why Franchising Is the Perfect Opportunity for Women.” And be sure to follow us Facebook and Twitter to receive updates on all things business-related.