How to Advocate for Your Work-family Balance
Raising a child, or children, is a full-time job. When you’re being pulled in different directions amidst your work responsibilities and your family’s needs, it can feel impossible to juggle both. But, more working parents today are voicing their needs for flexible arrangements at their jobs, and more employers are seeing the business benefit of allowing more flexibility. Here are some steps you can take to approach your employer with confidence about the topic.
Do you know what kind of flexibility works for you?
Before bringing up this topic with your employer, it helps to know what your ideal arrangement looks like. Would an extra day off allow you to catch up on household errands? Shifting to a ten-hour workday for four days a week may be a potential solution. Maybe you want to be more present for your new child’s first few months? Temporarily working part-time hours may be an ideal adjustment.
Every situation is different, so asking yourself these types of questions can help you find potential solutions to discuss with your employer. It helps to know what you’re asking for—and the reasons for it—before making changes.
What workplace policies are available to help support your work-family balance?
Better work-family balance begins with researching and gathering all the info—from what’s already available at your workplace to policies that apply to all parents. For example, two things expectant parents should be aware of include Paid Family Leave and the Family Medical Leave Act. Besides these state and federally mandated protections for new parents, your workplace may offer other benefits.
The most important thing to do is ask. There are ways to get more information beyond your employee handbook—which means asking coworkers, other parents, and your HR representative.
How can you make the business case for more flexibility?
Identifying business benefits can help make the case for a flexible schedule. In 2016, nearly two million parents of children age five or younger had to quit, not take a job, or significantly change their job due to childcare problems. For many Los Angeles parents, this may be even more difficult as there is a lack of affordable childcare options. Some may feel forced to put their career on hold to care for their children. Fostering a flexible work environment that retains skilled and trained people creates an advantage for employers. It’s a situation where an open environment that invites conversations about balance empowers employees while providing employers insight into shifts in workplace expectations. Draw confidence from knowing your value as an employee and know that having to find a replacement is extra time, work, and a difficulty most employers would prefer to avoid.
How can you show that it works?
Consider how a flexible schedule might help your workplace—whether it allows you to avoid traffic and start your day more productively a few days a week, or empowers you to be more present and mindful on work tasks when you don’t have to worry about the care for your child . A trial period of 1-3 months can help your employer get used to your new schedule, and it can also show them that it’s not a permanent arrangement. As your child grows, your situation will change. Being transparent with your employer helps keep them in touch with your situation, and they’ll be less likely to be caught by surprise when something changes.
How can you be an advocate for other working parents?
As more parents ask for work-family flexibility, it empowers other parents to ask, resulting in progress that benefits all families. Already we’re seeing changes to government policy that promotes family bonding by expanding the Paid Family Leave program. We’re also seeing more workplaces implement more parent-friendly company policies that benefit them and their employees.
You can also be an advocate by supporting other working parents. This may be as simple as being a supportive voice that shares what you’ve learned from your work-family experience when others seek your advice, being understanding of their fluid schedule, or being empathetic to the challenges of parenthood. Any help that offers more work-family flexibility is a gift that gives us moments to catch our breaths and continue doing our best.
Being a parent is rewarding—and presents its own unique considerations. When we take steps to advocate for ourselves, we help create change that benefits all families.
Related Topics: Advocacy