If you want to improve your work-life balance then there is one action step you must take. It’s a very logical action step but sadly, it is a step most employees unhappy with their work-life situation either fail to do it or avoid altogether.
That action is step is: to have the work-life conversation with your supervisor.
There are 3 very simple reason for you to do this.
1) Work-life can’t get better if you don’t discuss it. A straightforward concept thatoften gets overlooked. If your professional and personal life are not in harmony then you have to take this step. The research shows that managers are the gatekeepers to work-life initiatives in organizations. We often have very gray policies that say any alternative work arrangement is approved at the managers’ discretion. It just makes sense to take this step. Even if your human resource policy would allow for an alternative arrangement, a conversation with your supervisor will help ensure you are all on the same page. Although there is no guarantee this conversation will yield a positive result it is a critical step because:
2) You will know where you stand. Not every supervisor, organization, or job design is going to mesh with your work-life needs. Sometimes we know this ahead of time but it is usually revealed after working for a company for some time. Having the conversation with your supervisor will let you know where things stand and if there is no prospect of the situation improving then you can:
3) Create clear action steps moving forward. No matter how the conversation goes, you will come out of it with options. If the conversation goes well then your next action steps are rooted in formal agreements, discussions with human resources, or negotiating what these changes will look like more specifically. If the conversation does not meet your work-life needs then your option generally are to either:
a. Think about an exit strategy.
b. Accept the situation and move on.
c. Accept the situation and sulk (generally not a good option)
Work-life balance is something that must be advocated for on an individual level. Even when friendly and flexible policies are in place it is still on you (the employee) to speak up and communicate your needs. I believe that most supervisors are good people who want to help and who want their employees to be happy. They can’t help you if they don’t know; especially if you are burying something that is bothering you. Have the conversation and let your thoughts be known.
Paul Artale is a work-life expert and keynote speaker who believes in the power of work-life advocacy.