Two years ago at our Growing Pains event, Lori Yeager Davis, President of Martin Williams, said something that stuck with me, “I don’t think balance exists. I think choice exists.” Davis shared her experience choosing between after-hours work meetings and attending her children’s activities, a situation countless professional women have found themselves in over the years.
Until she realized work/life balance is impossible to reach, Davis—like many of us—wanted to do it all. Reinforced by years of increasingly high expectations placed on us by society—and, let’s face it, ourselves—the concept of “doing it all” is simply unrealistic. Work/life balance doesn’t exist—but, like Davis reminded us, choice does.
Choose to put yourself first by having a conversation with your boss about work/life balance. Whether you feel like you’re drowning in work, or your boss takes advantage of the 24/7 personal access she has to you via Slack, here are three ways to make a tough conversation with your boss a little easier.
1. Know Your Priorities
First things first, assess your priorities. Are you a night owl who’s at her most productive late at night? Maybe you need more flexible working hours. Do traveling and exploring help you relax? Perhaps you can negotiate more PTO. Maybe you just need another day or two to stay in your pajamas, curled up on your couch with your cat. Ask your boss if you can work remotely once or twice a week.
Knowing what takes priority in your life outside of work will help you approach a conversation with your boss with more confidence. Knowing what you want, and being able to clearly articulate why and how it will benefit both you and the company, is crucial to gaining your boss’s respect—and their buy-in.
2. Be Prepared
Employees with better work/life balance are more productive and more loyal performers. In fact, one study shows employees sleep better and are in a better mood after vacations—the effects of which continue to last more than a month after their return. Use statistics like these to support the case you make to your boss.
Creating work/life balance should be mutually beneficial for you and your employer, so do your research and come to the conversation prepared. Cassidy Solis, workplace flexibility program specialist at the Society for Human Resource Management, says, “The focus should be kept on the nature of the position and how job responsibilities will be able to be accomplished while working flexibly.”
3. Remember Your Worth
Your boss doesn’t want to burn you out or overwork you. After all, they hired you for a reason. They’ve invested in training you, paying you, and empowering you to succeed in your role, so as you head into a conversation about work/life balance with your boss, remember you have worth, and you deserve as much rest and relaxation as the next gal.
The Power of Choice
You can’t always find balance between your responsibilities at home and at work, but you can choose to prioritize one over the other when necessary, and to have an open and honest conversation with your boss about your priorities and needs.
Whatever the result of your conversation, communicating your needs will help your boss understand what type of work environment will help you excel.
/written by Erika Voeller
/photo by Christina Morillo