Sunday, March 24, 2013

If You Could Ask Your Boss For Anything...

If you could ask your boss for anything, what would it be? More money? Less work? A nicer office?

It may surprise you to know that a lot of people would choose more time off or flexibility over an increase in salary. People want time to spend doing what they love outside of work. It's no longer the norm to "live to work" like our parents' generation. We want flexibility and time to be the healthiest versions of ourselves - time to engage in our hobbies, catch our kids' soccer practice, get the dog to the vet on a weekday.

Even though it's true that working parents want more time with their kids, people who don't have kids also want more flexibility in their work-lives, it's not just a working parent or working Mom issue. Personally, I am grateful for that flexibility, so when I was asked what I would change for working parents, paid and extended parental leave for U.S. employees came to mind. Please read this article if you get the chance, it's titled 8 Things Working Parents Wish Their Boss Would Say and my full quote is accessible from that link.
I believe society benefits when parents have the choice to take parental/maternity/adoption leave without sacrificing their paychecks. Juggling work and family responsibilities takes practice, and 12 weeks of leave is not enough time for most people, especially if the bulk of that time is taken unpaid, which is stressful on most families. By extending leave and making it paid (or more realistically, partial pay), employees would be better adjusted before returning to work, thus more productive at work, and in turn their children may be healthier too.

It's about having options and figuring out what is best for your family. Some Moms want to return to work as soon as they are able, and they are happy and healthy and their children are happy and healthy too, but compared to other nations, the U.S. is way behind in the amount of time it allows parents (check out this awesome graph from the NYT), as well as pay offered during leave (most countries offer some paid leave). Vicki Shabo of the National Partnership for Women and Families is also a strong advocate of paid family leave and when it comes to how to pay for paid leave (someone has to pay one way or another), I think we can look to other models of successful programs, such as Canada, New Jersey, and California.

Tell me in the comment section below, if you could ask your boss for one thing to make your work-life easier, what would it be?

And for those of you who may want to ask your boss for something but can't in person, there is always Tell Your Boss Anything, a website that allows you to send an anonymous message to your boss. This may or may not be a good thing!

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  1. Hi Jes!
    Great, thought-provoking post! I agree that flexible work schedules are a win-win for employees and employers. However, I don't think parents are ever going to get 12 weeks of PAID leave. I think your idea of partially paid leave might work. Maybe employees could pay into a fund to help pay for some/all of the costs to employers. Or, maybe a program where employees contribute a certain amount of sick days, comp. time, vac. time to a "bank" from which you could apply to make a withdrawal from for a new baby or a personal emergency that requires a person to be absent from work, etc. Lots to think about on this issue! :)
    Justin- Writing Pad Dad
    Writing Pad Dad Blog
    Writing Pad Dad on Facebook

    1. Thanks Justin! So many great points in your comment. I was actually reading this article today and thought about your comment: Partially paid leave works well in states/companies that provide that for employees, and the way that's set up depends, sometimes it's employer-paid, and other times it's a super small tax that comes out of every employees' paycheck. Then of course there are companies that just pay 100% of their employees' leave because they understand the importance of their workforce and the investment they have already made into their employees, so it's to their advantage to have their new mothers (and fathers) return to work in "good shape". We need more examples like that in the U.S. :) Paid time off "banks" are such an great program and really elucidate how colleagues can come together and support one another!

    2. I couldn't agree more with your last line about colleagues coming together! So important!