Work/life balance coordinator helps employees be more productive
For Kizmet Adams, work/life balance really isn't about balance at all. It's about creating harmony in the four domains of a person's life—self, work, home and community.
"It will never be even, and it will never be balanced. In fact, there are times when it's going to be very imbalanced," she said. "[Work/life balance] is like a symphony where all the notes work together to make a beautiful melody, which is a well-lived life. The horns don't stand out over the strings."
Adams, UGA's work/life balance coordinator, started her position in February. The position came out of the Women's Leadership Initiative, started in March 2015, to address issues such as recruitment and hiring, career development, work-life balance and leadership development.
"To me, it's not about balancing at all. It's about integrating," she said. "What you really want is a whole person coming to work, because those people are happier, and more focused, productive and engaged at work."
So far, Adams has identified two main areas that go hand-in-hand that she'll help people address—managing stress and taking care of themselves. To do that, she's partnering with experts at UGA.
"I hope to partner with other departments on campus," she said. "I know that I'm sitting in the middle of a land of experts on anything that I could possibly need or want."
Adams already has partnered with a service-learning course in the College of Public Health and foods and nutrition students from the College of Family and Consumer Sciences on the 12-week "Fuel Your Life" wellness program for Transportation and Parking Services employees. The program's goal is to help employees in jobs that have fewer opportunities for movement throughout the day make healthier choices. Students act as accountability partners, checking in with the participants once a week for lessons, guidance and assessments. If this program proves to be successful, it may be expanded to other employees.
After taking the position, Adams realized that the majority of UGA's workforce is between the ages of 45-55, the so-called "sandwich" generation that cares for both children and aging parents at the same time. For these employees, Adams coordinated two eldercare workshops through HR's training and development department. From that experience, she discovered a need for a caregiver support group and partnered with the Franklin College's Psychology Clinic for weekly meetings held on campus during lunch. For more information about the caregiver support group, call the Psychology Clinic at 706-542-1173.
Adams also is helping make offices a little more like home by partnering with the textiles, merchandising and interiors department in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences on an "Extreme Office Makeover" contest. Nominations for the "ugliest office on campus" were submitted, and judges chose five winners whose offices will become design projects for students enrolled in Lilia Gomez-Lanier's studio design course. They will come up with five designs for each office, and Gomez-Lanier will select one winning design for each office. UGA's Office of Service-Learning, Chastain's Office Furnishings and Supplies, Fowler's Office Supply, and McGarity's Business Products provided sponsorship funds to implement the winning design. Sherwin-Williams also is donating new paint for the offices, and Patcraft will donate new carpeting.
Another way Adams is helping make life just a little easier is through the employee/student job network. Co-sponsored by the Career Center, the network is a link between employees and students for the convenience of managing work/life responsibilities. Employees who need help with projects and chores like baby-sitting, pet care, lawn maintenance, etc., can post their jobs to a secure job board. Students can then apply for those part-time jobs. To learn more, visit www.hireUGA.com.
Adams also is partnering with UGA's Cooperative Extension and its Walk Georgia program. In the spring, they'll start a walking initiative to encourage employees to take a break from their desk and get fresh air during quick walks around campus. Maps with walking routes around campus designed by university architects are available online on the work/life balance website.
Adams is no stranger to balancing work and life at UGA herself, having been involved with the university for more than 30 years as a student and employee. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Grady College in 1983 and her Juris Doctor from the School of Law in 1989. She worked in the law school and taught the first-year legal research and writing course for several years. In addition to taking time to raise her own family, she also took other positions at the School of Law in admissions, academic support programs and summer programs. Most recently, she was the school's graduate coordinator.
"I saw this position advertised in fall 2015, and when I read it, I thought, ‘This is perfect for me. It combines everything that I am interested in,' " she said. "Lawyers aren't particularly known for work/life balance, but I've lived this. I have four children, and every position that I've had with the university, I've juggled working with having a family and going to school."
Adams works with individuals and groups. To find out more about available training and other resources or to make suggestions, visit www.hr.uga.edu/work-life-balance or contact Adams directly at 706-542-7319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the work environment at UGA, and that's exactly what this position is supposed to do," she said. "It's supposed to help faculty and staff find resources to help them be less stressed and be more productive, happy, fulfilled and satisfied in their work."