You might love your job -- but when it comes down to it, you love your family more. The bad news is, you have to spend many of your waking hours on the job, seriously cutting into your time with the fam. Welcome to the dilemma of work-life balance; needing to work, but wanting to spend more time with family. While it's true that you will have to devote much of your energy to that job, there are some employers out there who really do care about helping you be happy in both worlds, and demonstrate it through things such as flex-time, child care, and other work perks. If you're an employer, take heed; workers regularly report work-life balance as a main reason they'll stay in a job, according to the American Psychological Association.
Perhaps the biggest way in which organizations support a work-life balance is to offer some degree of flexibility regarding the hours employees work. Some offices ask workers to work an additional hour Monday through Thursday so that workers can work a half-day on Fridays. Others allow workers to telecommute or work odd hours so the worker can juggle family and home obligations. At some businesses, workers "share" a job, together working the equivalent of a full-time employee to allow for more time home with families. Some of the benefits of these programs include lower absenteeism and an increase in productivity, according to a report from The White House Council of Economic Advisors. Additionally, some employers offer paid sabbaticals after a certain number of years worked, or generous personal, sick and vacation time to allow workers to enjoy other facets of life.
Providing workers with on-site services allows them to do the things they may not otherwise have time to do if if involved more commuting. It's no secret that the office job that involves lots of sitting can often lead to weight gain; to combat that and encourage workers to stay healthy, some offices have created their own on-site exercise facilities, or offer discount memberships to nearby health clubs. Businesses can also organize group exercise sessions at the office, and allow workers to take time out from work to attend.
While flex time and telecommuting offer some solutions for workers with children, another option is to offer on-site child care. This contributes greatly to a better work-life balance, because workers don't have to commute somewhere else to drop off the kids before going to work. Plus, checking in with their babies on a coffee break or at lunch can help parents stay connected; some mothers are also able to continue breastfeeding longer when child care is provided on-site.
While many full-time jobs offer health insurance and a retirement package, some definitely do better than others in the benefits they offer. Beyond that though, organizations can support workers going through difficult times through an employee assistance program, which offers counseling for crises such as a family death, divorce or addictions. The most supportive employers will not only offer these services, but also provide the time off needed to access them, without guilt or other repercussions for missing work.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.