life-friendly workplaces?

someone wanted to know how you negotiate flex schedules, especially since there may be some generational issues to conquer in terms of workplace perspective (boomers versus gen-xers.) here’s my perspective and experience.

i’m born in the one year that is smack dab between when folks say boomer-dom ends and gen-xers begin. [so i don’t know what you’d call me. a booxer?] anywho, i negotiated a flex schedule in a very family friendly nonprofit with a wonderful boss (no, she doesn’t read this, i really think the world of her) who originally wanted my position to be a FT position because i supervise folks. it is r e a l l y challenging to get an employer let you do a PT schedule (HA! 32 hours = PT. that’s always made me LOL) when you supervise, so i count myself extremely lucky. (the fact that i have a great staff helps, too 😉

i work an 80% schedule. what this means is that my salary is prorated, my leave is prorated, my holidays are prorated (yes, i only get 80% pay on all holidays and must make up the time), basically my life at work is prorated. i think i was able to negotiate it because i have such a weird career background (PR + social sciences + tech).

but, when i ran out of sick leave by april 1 of last year because of very sick children in hospitals + near-death siblings in hospitals (you really don’t want to know in full, but in short, it was one of those years when you think it won’t get any worse and it does, repeatedly), my boss let me dip into annual leave when i needed more sick leave and had none to get. in short, i literally made it out of the annual leave hole last pay period (yes, a year + later). but i was and am wildly grateful for my organization, which had these sorts of rules in place already and for this supportive boss of mine (a parent of teens) who not only provided me with the right information to make things work, but also kept telling me a thousand times, “this will all pass — it will all get better.” i worked my tail off to keep all the proverbial balls in the air — i guess my boss knew and appreciated that. but everyone should have this experience (not the near-death and sick kids part, of course) — other nations have more family friendly workplaces and cultures that support people as workers and as family members.

a while back, i remember what i thought was a rather idiotic cat fight pitting parents versus non parents in the workplace — why do they [parents] get these family benefits that i [single person] will never reap. i remember thinking, you know, it isn’t just about parents. single people are part of families. they, too, could benefit from a life-friendly workplace. sure, capitalism is all about making money; but there are plenty of people out there who just aren’t finding the balance they require to be productive, period. they’re stretched; they’re torn; they just don’t know how to support themselves, how to contribute in the workplace while making sure their families are in a good place in life.

there’s got to be a better way. i think that we need to reframe the issue. when you make it family-friendly, then people somehow subconsciously assume it is a “womens issue.” and you know how hard it is to get anyone to care about women’s issues. (shoot, we never could pass the freaking ERA!) somehow, we have to make this everyone’s issue — single, married, families — something that is a life-friendly workplace.

i would love to know how to start.

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