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Asked by Susan on July 25, 2016

My boss often puts expectations on me that I'm uncomfortable with. He often expects me to put my job over my home life and family and it seems that he thinks our career should always be our #1 priority. Because of this, I also have slipped into thinking that. How do you maintain a work/life balance? Is it important to do so? How do I communicate with my boss that I have other priorities?

Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on July 29, 2016

This is a difficult position to be in.  Before taking any action, you should take time to thoroughly evaluate your options, and this will include taking a very introspective look at yourself.  First, are there other opportunities within your current company.  Also, is your set of skills one that is in demand in the job market right now.  Next, how flexible are you in where you work.  And lastly, what is the general philosphy of your company around work/life balance.  If your company generally pushes for this balance, I would recommend having a conversation with your human resources department to obtain guidance on how to address this matter.  If you have another mentor within the company, have the same conversation with them.  I recommend this because it does not sound like your boss would have an open mind when discussing this topic.  In your current situation, it will likely take a third party to make any changes.  Of course, your other option is to seek an opportunity elsewhere.  Most companies deeply value a healthy work/life balance and these are companies that are generally the most successful and have the most engaged and productive employees.  Go out to GlassDoor and do some searching on this topic to see what those companies might be.  Then begin your efforts to seek out a career opportunity there.

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Answered by Sylvia, Hiring Expert at Hewlett-Packard, on August 1, 2016

Great question! Work life balance seems like it is an important topic to you, it is for me as well. There is a great Ted Talk about it, https://www.ted.com/talks/nigel_marsh_how_to_make_work_life_balance_work. Although the man came to the realization at 40 yrs old, it gives a good perspective about setting the habit early on so when the time comes and you have a family it's easier to manage. Worth the 10 minutes! Here’s good article with tips on approaching the subject with your manager. Don't get me wrong, speaking to your manager about it and implementing a work life balance is easier said than done. Personally I have been trying to be successful at it and it's a work in progress. I have found, when I plan my nights and weekends with events or creating a to-do for myself helps keep me on track. Good luck!

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Answered by Courtney, Hiring Expert at ADP, on August 5, 2016

This is a very important topic so I am glad you have asked the question.  I have always thought that you have to manage work life balance for yourself.  I would get with your manager &/or HR to gain a clear explanation of what is expected (hours, making yourself accessible, etc) of this role.  If you are comfortable with those expectations, then it is up to you to balance work:life.  (If you aren't comfortable with those expectations, you might want to start working your network to identify other opportunities.)  What I mean, is that if you start regularly answering emails late at night, or always say yes when asked to work beyond normal hours, then you are allowing an employer to take advantage of your willingness to go above and beyond.  I was guilty of this early in my career.  I worked at a firm that was very demanding and often times executives expected you to work at all hours of the day.  I was burnt out quickly with this pace and neglected my personal life.  I'm not saying I work any less at my current organization, but I for sure work smarter every day to walk away feeling like I'm making progress on any deliverables and priorities of my job.  It is rare that an after hours request comes through and my manager respects that if I'm unable to answer or work on it I will address the issue first thing the next business day.  I hope this helps and I wish you the best in your career!

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