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Balancing Family and Work

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You strive to be a good parent, to be available for your children when they need you. And you try to spend an adequate amount of time with them. You also enjoy your work and strive to be a productive, well-regarded employee (not to mention that your family needs the money). You know you must maintain some sort of balance between your work life and family life, even though at times this seems an impossible task.

Over the last ten years, the working world has changed. Women and men now have more options in how, when and where they work. Let’s explore some of these work options. Maybe one of them can better your current work-family situation.

FULL-TIME EMPLOYMENT

Full-time employment used to mean working eight hours a day for five days per week. Full-time employment now includes any work over 32 hours per week, no matter how many days it is divided over, or where the location of the employment is.

One newer type of full-time employment is flextime. According to HR Magazine, the magazine of the Society for Human Resource Management, flextime “allows employees to take advantage of a range of starting and ending times for the workday.” Some companies give employees the option of starting anywhere from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and of leaving eight and one half-hours later. Often with flextime there is a rule that all workers must be present between a core group of hours, such as 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Another full-time work option is the compressed workweek, which HR Magazine defines as allowing “employees to condense their work week into fewer days. This is often done in what is called a ‘4-10’ configuration of four 10-hour days each week; another common compression scheme is the 5-4/9 (nine 9-hour days over the course of ten work days.”

The third non-traditional full-time work arrangement is telecommuting, which HR Magazine describes as employees working “at home or some other decentralized location during part or all of their scheduled hours.” New technologies have made telecommuting a popular option for companies and employees, though some occupations will never permit telecommuting.

PART-TIME WORK

If full-time work seems to take too much time away from your family, perhaps you are considering part-time employment. Once again, there are many options.

One type of part-time employment is permanent part-time, which HR Magazine defines as “steady part-time employment, usually for a set number and configuration of hours each week,” usually under 30 hours. Permanent part-time may mean working five days a week for six hours or less a day, or may mean working two or three full (8-hour) days a week.

Another type of part-time employment is job sharing, which HR Magazine defines as “an option that allows two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. This option is often available when a company wishes to keep a valued employee who seeks reduced hours but holds a job requiring full-time coverage.” For professionals, job sharing can be an attractive work option for keeping on the career track while spending more time with family or pursuing more education. But to get job sharing to be a positive experience for the company and the job-sharing employees, both people need excellent communications skills and a teamwork attitude.

The two other types of part-time work include contract workers and phased or partial retirement. Contract workers are hired either full or part time on a temporary or as needed basis, either for a particular project or during a rush season. Local department stores hire seasonal, part-time employees, especially during the winter holiday season.

Phased or partial retirement part-time is when “an employee about to retire cuts back his or her hours to part-time. When retirement is phased, the hours are reduced according to a formula over a set period of time. Partial retirement, on the other hand, resembles permanent part-time employment,” according to HR Magazine. Both partial and phased retirement can start out as job shares, with a former full-time employee training the job sharer to possibly eventually take over the position.

When thinking about your employment situation, keep these thoughts in mind:

· More time at home doesn’t necessarily mean your kids will spend more time with you.

· Only you know what amounts to an adequate balance between home and work.

· There is no “right” amount of time to spend with your children, beyond “some” quality time each day, where you continue to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company–where you learn together.

· Only you know if your children need more time with you, and if you can afford to live on less money.

So the next time the baby pulls on your pantyhose, think of your options and then exercise what is most appropriate for you.

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