The past few months have been a lifestyle shift for me. I started a new job that puts me in the car for a commute longer than I had been used to travel to and from work. The commute itself isn’t a bad thing — the loss of the time is what stings.
So on my commute, I have the pretty Texas Hill Country scenery to enjoy and time to ponder all life’s questions. The past few months, work/life balance has always found their way into my thoughts. It’s a phrase you have heard and may have used here and there.
I recently read an article that the term is overused and obsolete because today’s millennial workforce just expect they will have balance in their professional world.
I also saw a story on “CBS This Morning” about companies that capitalize on “Summer Fridays” because Fridays can be the most unproductive day of the week. An interesting thought since here at the Great Place, we have Phantom Time on Fridays. The story went on to talk about how not all jobs or companies can have Friday Happy Hours like T.G.I.F’s corporate headquarters, but the companies that do get more productivity from their employees and they are less likely to leave the company because they are happy and feel appreciated.
As a military spouse, work/life balance takes on a different meaning. Apart from children, pets, chores and whipping up daily meals, there are so many more other obligations. There are ceremonies and get-togethers. There are family days and Family Readiness Group meetings.
It is already hard enough for military spouses to get quality jobs, and when you have one of those jobs, there is a sense of guilt that comes from that — at least in my case.
That said, you decide what and how you manage this military lifestyle. It has to work for you and your family. There will always be events you can’t attend, and there will be events you can. There will be times when your work may take a backseat. Kids get sick. School events are scheduled. You end up adjusting the best way you can.
For me, I miss out on certain military traditions and fun because of the distance. Now, I am lucky to have leaders who understand and work with my schedule on certain events. That said, I often am at work later than scheduled and am constantly checking my emails once I get home.
So is there some ownership on the employee to have work/life balance? The more I think about it, the more I realize it’s a partnership between employer and employee. If I didn’t check my email from a set time, all would be fine.
If there was an emergency of sorts, someone would call me. I think this one is an easy one and one that you can abide by even if you don’t work. We all know the rabbit hole you can go down when you start checking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or maybe it’s just me.
Another way for me to manage the work/life balance is to leave on time on days I know I have something here at the Great Place. I mark it on my calendar. I mark it on my boss’s calendar.
To those working military spouses, I applaud you. It’s hard to maintain work/life balance, but I do believe employers want you to be happy when you come to work. For them, they get a higher level of productivity and better customer service.
So as we continue to navigate our professional paths as military spouses, find ways to make your employers understand the importance of our military life while showing them the pride you feel in your job.
Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald Correspondent. She lives on Fort Hood.