What is the best strategy for balancing work and family?

Author Name
Answered by: Katherine, An Expert in the Achieving Work-Life Balance Category
A quick search of the Internet for “balancing work and family” yields a wealth of results reflecting the struggle of many workers to earn a living while maintaining healthy, fulfilling relationships with their children and spouses. To compound the struggle, the lengthening life span made possible by medical advances has resulted in a growing “sandwich generation”, a situation where working parents are “sandwiched” between their children and their own parents, trying to care for both ends of the age spectrum with little time left for their own endeavors.

A fact sheet from the Mayo Clinic lists several strategies for striking work-family balance (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/work-life-balance/WL00056/NSECTIONGROUP=2). These include tracking how you spend your time both on and off the job, managing time by finding ways to be more efficient, and taking advantage of workplace options that may allow for a more creative approach to the work week.

These options may include job sharing (sharing hours and benefits with another worker), telecommuting, or a compressed work week (eg, working some longer days to gain a full day off). All of these strategies can be rolled up into one important strategy: seeking schedule flexibility in order to attain more work and family balance.

Research summarized by the Sloan Work and Family Research Network (http://wfnetwork.bc.edu/pdfs/flexworksched.pdf) confirms that a key strategy to help with balancing work and family is finding access to a more flexible schedule in the workplace. More than a third of employees who have access to flexible work hours report "low levels of negative spillover from job to home".

Employers may find this strategy more appealing when they learn that nearly three quarters of employees who have a flexible arrangement report a high likelihood of staying with their job for at least an additional year.

An article for CIO, an organization that supplies information on the best strategies for attaining business goals, reports that today’s employers are increasingly aware of the need to avoid rapid employee turnover by allowing more flexibility (http://www.cio.com/article/133800/How_to_Negotiate_a_Flexible_Work_Schedule?page=1&taxonomyId=3123). Author Lori K. Long recommends that the worker who wants to pursue a more flexible arrangement should create a well thought out proposal for his or her employer, outlining details of the plan, benefits for the company, and contingency plans for a fluctuating workload.

Suggesting a trial period can appeal to both supervisor and employee, since it ensures a chance to reevaluate the new arrangement and revert to the original schedule if things don’t work out as planned. Most often, supervisors are concerned that the quantity and quality of work may suffer with the new arrangement, so it’s important to build safeguards into the proposal. For example, the employee can offer to be on call during time away from the office, or to check in regularly when working from home.

In short, a flexible schedule may be the shortest route to balancing work and family needs. Take the time today to write your first draft of that proposal—the end result may be a much more rewarding and balanced work and family life!

Author Name Like My Writing? Hire Me to Write For You!

Related Questions