Creating a Work-Life Balance: Part Two
Successfully leading or helping to lead a large company and still having quality family time may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. First of all, it is important to analyze and understand the company’s stated vision, mission and philosophy. Has the company shown an interest in their human resources or are they overly focused on the idea that employees are easily replaceable? In fact, these are all important questions to ask before accepting a commitment to the company.
Indeed, each individual should have an idea of what their priorities are in life. What most job seekers care about is creating an income that can help support their off the job interests. Too often, it is all about the money. One of the good things about applying for a job is the ability to match the employer philosophy with that of the applicant. In fact, part of the applicant due diligence is to determine if the company’s way of doing business with clients and employees meets the candidate’s expectations. The Internet and other social media channels can provide valuable insights as to how the employees view the company. However, it is important to keep in mind that some employees-particularly former employees- may not represent an unbiased opinion.
While a company may have a good reputation, that does not mean that some managers may have their own style of managing that can create workplace stress. In fact, numerous surveys show that most turnover is due to individual problems with mid-level managers. That said, one of the first things to do is to determine what may be the obstacles to achieving a work-life imbalance.
What is your idea of an acceptable work-life balance?
One of the most common reasons for a work-life imbalance is the fact that employees don’t have a good understanding of what makes for a work-life balance for them. Moreover, during different phases of one’s life, priorities can change.
Not enough free time...
The first task is to determine what personal requirements are not being satisfied. Consider what you need your free time for and if there is a way to use better the free time you have. Prioritize those activities and determine if better time management can make room for those free time priority activities. How much TV time do you spend each week? What other non-essential activities are using too much of your free time? So, before approaching the company, try to adjust your free time to meet your personal needs. Often, it is just a matter of better organization and prioritization of free time. But what if re-arranging your free time is not enough?
As the most common problem for most of us is on-the-job stress (either the work itself or politics) and carving out better work-life balance will require the willing participation of the company, it is important to consider the strategy to use. For example, if your job requires too much of your free time, evaluate if the situation is temporary or part of the job description. If the job description is the problem, then how you approach the problem will depend on your relationship with your immediate report in the chain of command. Never go around the chain of command. If you are on good terms and have been producing the required work, then it is best to do the following:
Create a plan to help accomplish your needs as well as the needs of the company (for example, there may be certain parts of the job that could be done telecommuting).
Go to your HR manager and ask them if the company has an established policy that could be applied to your situation.
Make an appointment to discuss your plan with your manager even if they are not the ultimate decision maker.
However, if your direct report in the chain of command is part of the problem, it makes sense to talk to HR first. I would recommend you take a witness to your conversation with HR as you will tell HR that your conversation is confidential and that your intention is to eliminate repercussions. You could even go a little over the top and take along a Nondisclosure Agreement.
What if there can be no resolution with the company?
As mentioned, the average employee turnover takes place within 18 months. As with all statistics, there are many other factors that need to be taken into consideration. For example, lower skilled/paid jobs share a large percentage of the turnover population. However, if the work-life balance becomes a real problem, the solution can come down to voting with your feet or cave in to the need for security or the material things in life. That crossroad is a very personal decision but fear should not control the situation. So often, people find out that change brings opportunities and new perspectives. A job is a job but your life is really the only thing you can control. Use it wisely. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
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