The best policy is honesty
Juggling work and childcare can be a struggle. But we don’t always feel comfortable talking to our employers about the many challenges this holds. Worried about how perceptions of us may change, it may seem easier to get on with the job and cope silently with the mounting pressures of home life. But the long term effect is frustration, further stress and less productivity on all fronts. The solution is honesty on both sides of the desk.
By approaching work/home life balance in a consultative way, staff and their employers reap the benefits.
Tell it as it is
Honesty has to start at the interview stage. Employers need to communicate clearly what the expectations of the role are from the outset. But you also need to be clear what the obstacles or challenges may be in fulfilling those expectations.
Family commitments, and particularly, childcare arrangements, are ever-changing – but so is a business. Keep your employer informed of any changes that may impact your ability to meet the on-going challenges of a growing and dynamic business. If your boss has insight into these changes, there will be less expectation for you to carry on regardless of the pressure you may be feeling.
Worrying about being seen as a failure and bottling up your mounting stress isn’t going to do your health or the business any good. Any reasonable employer who values your input will be prepared to listen and to offer a reasonable solution.
A childcare issue or another family commitment challenge isn’t always going to be solved by ‘taking some time off’. Communicate clearly what will make a difference to your life so that you can do your job to the best of your ability while managing your other important responsibilities.
Employers have a moral responsibility to ensure the right working conditions and opportunities are available to you. This includes tuning into your needs as an employee. It means being sensitive to any changes or challenges that may be happening in your life outside of work. But there are times when they won’t know unless you tell them.
The last thing any responsible employer will want is to lose a valued member of the team because they weren’t aware of the pressures they were facing at home. On-going dialogue with an HR director or boss – perhaps as often as on a monthly basis – will keep everyone informed about changes to personal circumstances and how they can be addressed.