Successful relationships are the ones where there is a balance of give and take over time. Parties are clear about what they are willing to give and wanting to receive and for the most part there are win/win outcomes. This approach to successful relationships is just as relevant to employees and employers and for most the subject of flexibility is way out of balance.
To be successful in today’s work environment, most roles and organisations require a certain level of flexibility with regards to hours worked both in volume (over a given week) and timing i.e. outside the standard contracted hours being Monday through Friday. Boundaries around the work day (especially in CBD areas) have vanished impacted by global teams and customers. Organisations are demanding more and high performers are giving even more than demanded until…
The employee asks for something in return and are slammed with a NO or a begrudging Yes. Typically this may look like a few hours off one morning to connect with a mentor, attend a conference or even attend to family commitments. In my experience many organisations are a little more willing to ‘give’ for family commitments, happy to allow time off for sick children, school performances or events but it’s often a different conversation for those that don’t have a good enough ‘reason’.
Take the scenario of a 30-something professional female;
Typically in the office by 8am, leaves by 6:30pm (well outside her 40 hour contracted work week).
Rarely takes the allocated 1 hour lunch break
Checks and responds to emails most weeknights (till 8pm) and for an hour on most weekends
Occasionally works a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to ‘catch up’
Rarely needs time off for personal appointments
Without a good enough reason like family commitments etc the question of a few hours off (her chance to ‘take’ after all the ‘give’ in the week) is challenged if not explicitly then often implicitly. I recall being in this scenario personally frustrated that just because I did not have children did not mean that I was any less entitled to the ‘take’ element of the equation.
What matters is not that there is an explicit balance ie I work 40 hours and get paid 40 hours but rather than the needs and expectations of both parties are met.
The ‘give & take’ balance can be achieved in so many unique ways such as gratitude, appreciation, opportunities to grow and develop, promotions, recognition opportunities etc What matters is that for both parties – across time (perhaps the working month rather than week) that the ‘feeling’ of right balance is there.