TERRE HAUTE -- Indiana State University will host a two-day conference this month focusing on balancing work obligations with other life activities.
The university's second Work-Life Integration Conference will take place Oct. 24-25 in the special events area of Cunningham Memorial Library. Sessions will include a panel discussion by local employers about family-friendly policies in the workplace, a stress reduction workshop and a panel featuring work-life balance research conducted by ISU professors. Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Center for Families at Purdue University, will deliver the keynote presentation, "Healthy work and healthy life: Can we make it work?" The conference is free and open to the public.
"We have other things going on in our lives, and we need time for those things," said Barbara Eversole, assistant professor of human resource development and co-organizer of the conference. "If we don't have time for those things, then we tend to feel overwhelmed, get stressed and burned out. What organizations need to understand is that stress and burnout translate to higher health care costs for the organization."
Work-life balance is important for organizations to consider, as overworked employees can impact not only a company's long-term productivity, but increased medical expenditures also lead to greater costs for businesses that fail to promote a proper work-life balance, Eversole said.
"It's something that's increasingly becoming an issue in people's lives," she added. "As people are asked to do more and more with less and less, we're finding that the work that we do for pay is quickly crowding out any other work that we need to do at home, and our leisure activities and even community volunteer work are being crowded out by our paid work."
Wadsworth, whose keynote speech will close the conference, is a renowned expert on promoting the balance between work and family needs, Eversole said. While the field originated in finding balance between demands of work and family, it has since grown to include all activities outside paid employment.
While some people may not have children, many others have elderly parents that they may be caring for, Eversole said.
The first conference was conducted last spring and featured perspectives from a variety of disciplines on the importance of developing a healthy work-life balance. The conference series is part of Indiana State's strategic initiative of recruiting and retaining high quality faculty and staff to the university.
"We hope that people come and gain some understanding of the issues," Eversole said, "and also be able to take something away from the conference that they can use in their own daily lives."
The conference is made possible through funding from ISU's Strategic Plan Goal 6, Initiative No. 1: "Enhance the quality of life for faculty and staff." Co-sponsors of the conference include Cunningham Memorial Library, the department of economics, the department of human resource development and performance technologies, the women's studies program and interdisciplinary programs.