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Work-Life Daily

Worklife In The Academia Of Columbia University

5 Mins read

This is a series on worklife in the academia and it will feature ‘worklife’ programs and services offered by different universities or institutions of learning. We will showcase how each institution gives their stakeholders, “dreamed of” work and life experiences. In this edition, we are focusing on worklife in the academia of Columbia University.

Columbia University has an office of work/life. There are six areas of focus which describes the different services and assistance available to patrons. They are; well-being, housing and relocation, child care and schooling, breastfeeding, adult and elder care and faculty recruitment.

Columbia University’s office of work/life fosters the well-being of the Columbia community and its people in their pursuit of meaningful and productive academic, personal, and work lives.

Six Key Focus Areas of Columbia University Office of Worklife

Well-Being: Information provided in this section includes details about food and nutrition, physical activity, and weight management. Assistance on how to find a gym discount or join a wellness challenge.

Since this is the space about staying healthy, there is ample promotion on positive mental and emotional health. Others are how to build social connectedness, support on getting you relaxed and stress management techniques.

Sleep health therapy is promoted so that stakeholders body and mind can rest and recharge.

Housing and Relocation: Housing information and referral service is provided with mortgage lending program. There is assistance on temporary housing and hotels, relocation, moving guide, rental guide and information about neighborhoods.

Child Care and Schooling: This is set up as a resource to keep parents focused on their day job. There is information on schooling from elementary, to middle then high school. Also available is information on early education, early intervention and special education.

“While we cannot change the realities, we are staying as informed as possible. Columbia colleagues, we are here for you—to think out loud, explore options, and brainstorm potential solutions.”

The School and Child Care Search Service provides expertise and guidance for early education and child care or K-12 schooling options. The services are available either it is for a child under the age of 5 years or a school-age child, 5 years or older?  

Is Half Of Worklife Care for Family Or The Employee?

Breastfeeding: There is a guide to help supervisors and managers work with employees on taking time to express milk during the work day. Support is provided for setting up lactating room or space that will fit the needs of lactating mothers with minimal investment.

Other resources includes step-by-step checklist for preparing return to school or work and a compilation of local, state, and national resources for breastfeeding women.

Adult and Elder Care: Taking care of our own children is as important as taking care of those who took care of us when we were growing up. Columbia University therefore provides a number of services to support those caring for adults or elders. This section highlights programs and policies available at Columbia that may assist caregivers. It has links to many local, state, and federal organizations with helpful resources and information. There is information about senior citizen housing, and long distance elder care-giving.

Faculty Recruitment: Here, support provided includes relocation and transitions especially for newly-recruited faculty members and their families.

Additional Services From Office Of Worklife

Users of the services provided through the office of worklife can also take on additional offerings such as the following.

“Everything that we do is truly to support our community and work toward making Columbia an institution at which people can excel professionally and academically while still being able to enjoy their personal priorities,”

Rebecca Balkin. Assistant Director, Office of Work/Life. 

The Office of Work/Life offers free individualized, 1-1 consultations to help employees navigate the complexities that come with living in and around New York City.

The Uniqueness Of Worklife In The Academia Of Columbia University

Like most organisations, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a free, confidential service, that provides counseling, referral, and life coaching services. But the offerings seems endless, and the extent of care and options are diverse.

One thing that can make an environment uncomfortable, despite all the good resources that may be available, is the inability of employees to freely express themselves. Columbia University however is something of a magnet for provocative speakers – invited speakers or members of the community. 

According to Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University “universities are, today, more hospitable venues for open debate than the (US) nation as a whole.” In an article in the Atlantic, while addressing the issue of free speech on campus and President Trumps executive order extending free-speech protections to men and women on campus, Lee said, “when students express concern and discomfort about speech that is hateful, racist, or noxious in other ways, they are doing nothing unreasonable or historically unprecedented.” This is the freedom that allows unfettered release of creativity, and hopefully, connectedness.

Go For It But Do Not Be A Weak Link To Great Worklife Experiences

This is a great time and the reason for this call to employees, students and affiliates of the university, especially those that may be in need of some extra motivation to help themselves. They should turn to the University’s office of Work Life. The office have programs, services, and resources that will help them pursue meaningful and productive academic, personal, and work lives.  

No matter how good some things can be, and no matter how hard we all work, there tends to be some dark corners. This is so, especially when we are dealing with human beings. We trust our colleagues and supervisors to do the right thing. But sometimes, some people feel betrayed. In Columbia’s recent history, a story in the New York Times is a wake up call. Individually and collectively, members of Columbia community should continue to uphold the values that keep healthy worklife on track.

There are two resources to connect with from Columbia Business School. The first is called, “How Do I Find Work-Life Balance?” The other is called, “Why Aren’t My Attempts at Finding Work-Life Balance Successful”. Remember that resources are only provided by the office of worklife to support worklife in the academia of Columbia University. However, achieving worklife balance is a different challenge.

How Do I Find Work-Life Balance?

To the question, how do I find work-life balance? Cali Williams Yost “short answer is, you can’t, because true balance doesn’t exist.” Cali wrote the article above titled, how do I find work-life balance? But he advocated for Work-Life Fit. No matter the pursuit, you can have a great experience using the “worklife fit” resources in the academia of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Changing the face of the world of work and the workplace requires a lot from all stakeholders. This is not just work for those in the human resources department. It is a collaborative effort that also involves all those who are receiving the services.

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