How to Talk to Your Boss About Better Work-Life Balance
Striving for a better work-life balance can be tricky at the best of times, especially if your manager doesn’t necessarily see your perspective. Our guest writer, Riya, explains.
Before you approach the work-life balance subject, you need to re-examine your perception of the real world and how it differs from the world you expect. Somebody may be a great person and able to create the facade of excellence, be that charming person may be a terrible manager. A person may act in a manner that appears caring but is in-fact a sociopath or very selfish.
Your manager may have created a situation where your work-life balance is distorted, and you may have cultivated that scenario while simultaneously thinking you are doing the right thing.
On the other hand, your boss may assume you take your own life in hand and may figure you would say something if your work-life balance was distorted. Consider the fact that your manager is far from perfect and needs your help to help to improve work-life balance for employees. Examine the possibility that you encouraged the heat under which you now exist.
Don’t moan, whine or nag
AKA “The squeaky wheel does not get the grease, it gets replaced”
It may seem odd that an article on fixing your poor work-life balance starts with something you “Should not” do but imagine being a manager who has a great employee, and then one day that employee makes a simple request such as one day per month undertaking remote work.
Now, contrast that with “Depressed Doris” who repeatedly asks for softer lighting, fluffier chairs, and a new bathroom because she feels the male/female toilets discriminate against people who switch genders. If you were the manager, whom would you go out of your way to please?
On the surface, the moaners, whiners, and nags may seem to get what they want, but even though these people seem to win their battles, they do not win the war. Instead, they create Marranos, (people who believe the opposite of what they publicly profess).
Improve your employee engagement in less than two minutes
Even today, you know people with whom you are pleasant, but who you would throw under the bus (figuratively speaking) if you knew you would never get caught. In addition, with whom do you think the manager would like the spend every day, with depressed Doris and delightful Debra?
Open negotiations with a big offer
AKA “If you want a mouse, ask mommy for an elephant”
Young Billy wants a pet mouse, a mouse that he has already named Chester, so he asks his mother for an elephant because he saw it on the Simpsons. He is told that elephants are not pets, so he asks for a dog. The mother keeps saying no, so Billy asks for a rabbit. Eventually, Billy works his way down to a mouse, and the mother is worn down and drained from saying no all the time that she relents.
If you have created a situation where you are going to have a meeting with your boss about managing the work-life balance of the boss’s employees, then open with something big and have the boss beat you down.
This may seem like a sleazy tactic, but consider the opposite, consider what happens if you walk into the meeting and give your honest bare-minimum requirements, and your boss tries to negotiate.
You will look like an immovable and uncompromising individual who is unwilling to negotiate. On the other hand, if you ask for a bunch of stuff, and you only walk away with 10% of what you asked, then your boss thinks she/he has done a good job.
AKA “Chip away at the foundations until the castle crumbles”
This tip for building a stronger work-life balance may seem like the opposite advice to what is presented in tip number two, but this tactic is used within the realms of a different scenario.
Tip number two is if you have arranged a meeting with your boss to discuss yours and/or your coworkers’ work-life balance. Tip number three is a long-term working strategy, it is not something you try when going into a meeting.
In short, what you do is ask for very small and seemingly meaningless changes to occur over a long time. As soon as your boss has forgotten about the last thing, you bring up the next. You may start with small changes to the door policy at work where people who are 5 minutes late do not lose money, and then work up to coworking space issues.
Oddly enough, this sort of chip-chip-chip tactic seems to work best for employees with target driven companies or companies that have peak seasons.
For example, new employees in Amazon warehouses have a very hard time keeping their jobs at first because targets are very tight and only a small number of mistakes are tolerated.
However, new starters who start work around November often last longer because managers are more forgiving of the occasional PUP bump or missed packing target because peak season is starting. Companies such as these will bend on certain issues because their priority is a target or a peak-season rush.
Just be careful that you do not lose ground when the pressure is off. For example, Amazon seems to take a very serious issue with lateness at the end of January when their peak season ends, and it has too many employees. It is also a time when the company coincidentally starts drug testing again.
If you have ever been a manager or boss, then you will know the beauty, glory and supreme happiness that comes from having a great employee. Managers who have been in business for 20 years will be able to cite a small handful of excellent employees because the great employees stick in the minds of managers.
Why should employers care about work-life balance? Because a good manager will do anything to keep the employees that matter, the employees that make their lives easier, and the employees that are reliable and/or over-perform.
With that in mind, keep your requests direct and pointed; because experienced managers have heard it all before.
If you do not like cubicles because you want to talk to the people surrounding you, then do not start quoting statistics from the CNN hype factory via a junior reporter named “Faken Ews,” with comments such as “cubicles can increase stress”, simply make a request and ask for at least a concession, such as a communal area for group tasks.
About the Author
Riya is an inspired writer writing in several areas of expertise. With spending her years working marketing communication, Riya is delighted to work with aspiring small business owners. Connect with her on twitter, @sanderriya.