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Work-Life Balance


At 27 years old, Frenchman Ruben Chaumont is looking at staying in the Philippines long term while wanting to make a positive impact in the country’s corporate culture.


Arriving in the country in February 2014, he quickly hooked himself up with Gawad Kalinga (GK) as a project manager for psychological empowerment at the bottom of the pyramid.



(artwork by Jimbo Albano, BusinessMirror)


“I believe in the work that GK does, because it transforms slum communities to communities that share values of caring. It is a behavioral transformation that cared for human needs and met with positive behavior. Gang leaders are transformed to community leaders,” Chaumont said.


Chaumont worked with in strengthening organizational development and the community-building at the GK Enchanted Farm.


Together with GK and the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center, he designed a research-tested intervention program that focused on the psychological empowerment of the poor working for the GK social enterprises.


From there, he has established Intentional Work Communities Inc., a Philippine-based company that assists in nurturing positive organizational cultures and brings out the best in individuals and groups within an organization.


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The 50-hour rule

Chaumont believes that economy and business-cultures in western countries over the past 20 years have become increasingly focused on short-term performance while undermining the true source of sustainable human performance.


“To perform at their best, human beings need to feel valued and find meaning and purpose in their work, but the more workplaces become short-term focused, the harder it is to provide these conditions to employees,” he said.


He likened what is happening in the corporate world to the farmer pressuring the goose to lay more golden eggs, instead of making sure it becomes healthier to increase the number of golden eggs it can produce.


Chaumont, who has a master’s degree in organizational sociology and human-resource management, said many corporate heads lack understanding of the human laws that affect employee productivity.


“Cost, quality and time are all business needs.  They also have to consider human needs,” Chaumont said.


He added that in the workplace, individuals have physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs.


“They need to be valued and respected.  There has to be clear goals and clear feedback. When one’s need is not satisfied, production suffers.  Invest in people, instead of managing them,” he said.


Citing a study by Harvard Business Review, Chaumont said when employees needs are satisfied, there is a 91-percent increase in the engagement of people at work, 199-percent increase in employee loyalty, 126-percent increase in positive energy in the workplace and 77-percent increase in life satisfaction.


However, he said current company cultures, policies and objectives tend to negatively affect work environments, with employees becoming increasingly overworked.


“When people work more than 50 hours a week, productivity does not necessarily increase. Overtime work for employees only works on short periods of time,” Chaumont added.


He said employees’ workload, autonomy, skill development, work-life balance, job security and social support all affect the health and well-being in the workplace.


If these factors are not met and satisfied, employees have increased stress levels, and may suffer burnout and depression, which in France even led to workplace suicide.


Chaumont said this is a new phenomenon that has been growing in France and it is something where he was involved as an external consultant who fixes social crisis.


Chaumont added that in one workplace where he was sent, 10 percent of employees were under depression.


“Unions were pressuring management to hire experts to reduce workplace stress. I did audit, quantitatively and qualitatively, to understand why work is making them miserable,” Chaumont said, while adding that he has done 700 interviews during those times.


Aside from suicides, Chaumont also cited one company department whose staff have been together for eight years, but have never talked to each other or had lunch together for six years.


He said those people were very much strangers to each other. There was no respect for each other, they see each other as threats and were basically avoiding each other.


As a consultant and project manager for a French consulting company pioneer in the development of workplace well-being, Chaumont was sent to 15 companies that were under social crisis in France and Belgium.


He was also a project manager for French telecommunications company Orange, dealing with its corporate culture and psychosocial risk prevention.


The Philippine situation

Compared to other parts of the world, employee satisfaction in the workplace is still relatively higher here in the Philippines.


“Worldwide, employee engagement at work is only at 13 percent.  In the Philippines it is at 25 percent,” Chaumont said.


He believes the Filipino culture has a lot to do with the level of engagement in the workplace. Chaumont said the Philippine culture is the country’s huge asset as it nurtures a sense of belongingness.


“From what I have experienced, Filipinos seem more joyful than westerners. They are also resilient and hospitable. The sense of community is also strong.  There is also a strong bond among families here” Chaumont said.


Chaumont cautioned that the Philippines should not make the same mistake as Europe, and that the Philippines should, instead of adopting short-term-oriented leadership styles, must focus on creating organizational cultures that create a win-win situation between the organizations and their employees.


Chaumont said his goal here in the Philippines over the next two years is to support 15 companies in creating positive organizational cultures.


Chaumont added that his biggest satisfaction from the work he does is the belief in human greatness.


“Human beings have unlimited potential for growth and excellence. I want to help leaders build positive organizations that naturally bring out the best in people.  There is amazing potential, provided people are in the right environment,” Chaumont said.


He added: “I believe in many companies, there is loose relationship between management and its people. The culture doesn’t drive the engagement of its employees the way it could.


Chaumont said that company presidents and CEOs have a key role to play in making sure that their company cultures drive both human flourishing and business performance.


He argues that business needs must understand human needs. For him, the goal in life is not work. It is just a means, not an end.


This article was originally published by our media partner BusinessMirror.
Work-life balance
by Rodel Alzona  |  Published: 5 March 2016  |  BusinessMirror



Author: Expatch Editorial Team


Photo source:

Top photo – Jimbo Albano







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