Flexible work arrangements have made returning to work a viable option for mothers who want to continue their careers, post-baby. Here are some tips for working moms to negotiate their way to flex-schedule freedom and, hopefully, get closer to achieving work-life balance.
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Your chances of landing a job that offers an augmented work schedule are better if you seek out “flex-friendly employers,” says Pat Katepoo of WorkOptions.com, a site that offers advice for working parents to achieve workplace solutions and flexibility. Most conventional employers expect new hires to make it through the typical 90-day grace period before considering or offering any special arrangements for flex-time, if any. Conduct some research online to see if the prospective employer is prone to offering its employees flexible schedules.
If you’re a current employee with sufficient tenure, then negotiating special arrangements with your boss will be less difficult than it would be for a rookie. Because you have a proven track record, your employer is able to better assess whether you’re trustworthy enough to offer a flexible work schedule. Here are three tips to help you ease into the intimidating conversation of asking for workplace flexibility.
1. Be realistic. If you work for a traditional employer, your chances of being allowed to work a different schedule is much lower. In addition to doing your research ahead of time to determine whether your employer offers flexible schedules to any employees, assess whether you actually deserve a flex-schedule or not – be honest with yourself, here. If you’re notorious for not being prompt or are known for taking excessive sick days, then don’t expect your employer to welcome your request for special arrangements with open arms. You’ll need to have a leg to stand on before you march into your boss’ office asking for special treatment.
2. Be specific. It’s wise to present your employer with a well-documented and thorough proposal when making your request. There are various types of flex-schedules available nowadays – compressed work week, flex-time, job-sharing, part-time work, telecommuting – so be specific in your work schedule requests. Also, it’s wise to have a back-up plan in case your first option does not pan out.
3. Be flexible. Just as you’re asking your employer to accommodate your life, you must also return the favor and be flexible with their requests. For example, the company may ask that you agree to a trial period to ease into the new work arrangements, so be careful not to become too greedy or entitled when you’re granted workplace flexibility. Keep in mind that your employer is probably not offering everyone such accommodating work arrangements, and that there is a level of trust and respect that needs to be maintained after your requests are granted.
Still have your doubts about fighting for your rights for flex-schedule freedom? Then listen up. Studies show that work flexibility benefits the employer as much as it does the employee – it’s a little something called “more bang for your buck.” Just think of it – when an employee is confined to a strict work schedule and arrives a few minutes late due to personal reasons (or traffic), they panic, anticipating another round of explanations for their lateness. That’s hardly an atmosphere that promotes productivity. However, when employees are entrusted with certain liberties in the workplace, studies show that freedom results in higher productivity, lower turnover, fewer sick days, and happier employees.
The fact is, more Americans are struggling to find balance (or sanity) in their everyday lives due to the overwhelming demands from juggling a career and a family. If employers want to retain loyal, hard-working, and happy employees, then it’s time to offer more accommodating schedules to working parents. Moreover, employees should look at requesting special work arrangements less as a favor, and more as a solution to the impending and worsening situation of workplace unhappiness.
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