“Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career” is about working mothers and fathers, but it is also bigger than that. “Work, Pause, Thrive” is a look at the unexamined and outdated beliefs our society still has about work and the new world of work we could create if we disrupt the simple idea that our 24/7 world can sustain itself by ignoring the “family” in work/life balance.
Work Pause Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career talks about work/life balance, but on a much larger scale. Instead of focusing adapting your life successfully around work, Lisen Stromberg’s book asks: “Why doesn’t work adapt to our lives?” Why do we accept a work culture where the normal events of human life: raising children, having an illness, or taking a break (aka vacation) are considered taboo? Stromberg’s Work, Pause, Thrive explores the implications of our “always working 24/7” work culture in our society.
What is Work Pause Thrive About?
The impetus for Work, Pause, Thrive began when the author, Lisen Stromberg, an advertising executive needed more time after her second pregnancy. She had given birth to a premature baby after spending months of bed rest. While going through all of this, she found shockingly little support or guidance to help her. Because of the lack of support, she, ultimately, decided to step out of the workforce. Lisen Stromberg couldn’t find a place for her that allowed her to be both a devoted mother and a devoted worker. She ended up creating her own job that gave her a better work/life balance.
As she dug deeper into the issue, however, she saw she wasn’t alone.
Our society, Lisen Stromberg argues, has not really come to grips with the answers to these questions. As a result, workrs live in a work culture with policies that ignore the reality of work/life balance. Companies maintain policies and laws that reward women for returning to work as soon as possible after giving birth and punish women (and men) for taking advantage of leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Society seems to assume, either overtly or subconsciously, that a woman will take care of the household and work even while men are paid higher wages. Society also assumes that men are not good caregivers and are less “manly” if they choose to be at home temporarily or permanently to raise their families.
But society shouldn’t leave individuals to fix these system failures in their work culture, Work, Thrive, Pause urges.
The book demands society including businesses and government take the issue more seriously. Instead of holding panels, conferences, and debate (which is helpful), action is needed. Work, Thrive, Pause walks readers through the problems of working in a world where the work in “work/life” balance completely separates without consequences.
Stromberg began her career in the advertising industry but left her executive position after her second pregnancy. Stromberg continued a new career as a consultant and award-winning journalist. She is currently the CEO of PrismWork, an agency that advises on workplace culture, and serves as an advocate for individual, business, and government action to achieve a better fit of work/family life.
What Was Best About Work Pause Thrive?
Work, Pause, Thrive offers a strong perspective on work/life balance, especially for women (but not exclusive to women). Stromberg draws together research, experts’ insights, and her own personal experience to create a truly comprehensive book that looks at more than maternal leave or vacations. It focuses on the structural changes that our society needs to make in the world of work to achieve a better work/life balance. Her book, while laying plans for a radically optimistic future, includes steps that individuals, businesses and the government can take now before that future happens.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Work, Pause, Thrive does an incredible job of showcasing the diversity of issues in work/life balance. Her book showcases that work/life balance isn’t an issue just for working mothers, but for everyone. Work, Pause, Thrive does, however, tend to focus on large businesses that have the resources (budgets, personnel, etc.) to implement the changes mentioned in the book. (Facebook is a great example.) What about small businesses and solo businesses, though? More recommendations and examples on how a small business can juggle the book’s recommendations while staying afloat could be even more helpful.
Why Read Work Pause Thrive?
Stromberg offers two important pieces to the work/life balance puzzle. First, her book addresses the gender equality at work. She details how the lack of women in higher-level roles (despite the rising number of female graduates) is not simply an HR issue. It is a social and cultural one that we have cemented through policies, actions and beliefs. The second issue is the recognition of the “ideal worker syndrome” which forces people to believe they don’t have societal value unless they follow the traditional rules of work that have been with us since the Industrial Revolution. Her book offers deep insight and actionable solutions for any worker who wants to understand the deeper issues that go into work-life balance, from an employer and employee standpoint.