Balance: How can your employer help?

By Sandi Stewart

Many people don't believe their employer will or can help them with their work and home life balance issues. I have found many, many clients are considering leaving their job because of the need for more flexibility or less stress.  Your employer can indeed help. However, you must take some simple first steps to get the help you need. The first person responsible for answering the question "How can me employer help with my balancing act?" is you. It is important to take responsibility for identifying your issues. Do they involve late office hours, too much travel or no flexibility with doctor's appointments and soccer games? Articulate your balance issues as specifically as you can.

Once you've listed your issues, do some brainstorming on your own or with a friend or personal coach. Find the win/win solution to your issues where you and your employer benefit. Or determine what sacrifices or changes must be made to keep both the employer and employee happy. Then, identify the person or people at work who can help make these solutions a reality. Work with your boss and key individuals to make the situation a true win/win solution.

Here are three simple rules to remember when trying to find work and family balance:

Rule #1: Don't expect to get what you don't ask for.
Your employer thinks in terms of its issues, its goals and its needs. Only you are the expert on your issues, goals and needs. Your employer has little motivation to foresee its employee's individual issues. Therefore, you must be your own advocate. Many of us simply don't ask for what we want out of shyness or fear of not getting what we want or out of a sense of duty to blindly serve. Know what you want, figure out how to make it work and ask.


Rule #2: If you keep on doing what you always did, you will keep on getting what you always got. 
Strangely enough many of us hope that things will somehow change even though we keep doing the same actions over and over again. Sometimes it does change, but most often we are left in the same unsatisfactory situation. If you want life to be better balanced, then do something. Rock the boat. Think out of the box and think in terms of what works better for you and your employer.


Rule #3: Quantify your value

Know specifically how you add value to your employer.  In particular note revenue or other quantitative measures.  But don’t forget the intangibles.  For example, do you have institutional knowledge due to longevity with the company?  Do you own technology knowledge that is unique?  Do you have relationships inside the company or in the client space that are unique?  All of these are part of how you bargain for flex time or crafting a different work situation.