You are single and have no children. Do you like your job more or less than your married colleagues with children? Are you able to manage your work-life balance better than the working parent who dashes out early to pick up the kids at daycare?
It’s a cultural quandary. We are trying (with mixed results) to respect the needs of families and the workplace. But what about singles?
According to research done at Michigan State, less than 15% of the differences in participants’ responses about job satisfaction and mental wellbeing relates to family considerations. Friendships, romantic relationships, yoga, weight lifting, walking the dog…we all need time for our personal interests, whether they include children or not. Yet, when that last minute business trip is required or the rush request arrives at 5:00PM, it often seems to be the single employee who is asked to respond. If you can step up, great. If you can’t, you have to be ok saying no.
Working parents are learning to insist on flexibility and respect. We no longer “balance” work and life, we integrate them. It has become ok to leave early and standard practice to pick up work again at 9PM.
Single employees also need to respect their own boundaries, and insist that others do as well.
We have worked with many employees and leaders to manage their own destiny. Utilizing coaching techniques focused on translating a perception of victim-hood to one of managed fate allows everyone a win-win. This model allows individuals to focus on what is important to them, and then create plans to turn that into reality. Likewise, managers learn what is important to their employees to better engage him or her to be successful.
Integrating work and life is a personal issue, not a corporate decision. You do need to put in the hours needed and produce high quality work. You don’t need to explain why you leave at a certain time; you shouldn’t have to make up doctor appointments. And just like married employees, all employees – singles especially – need to define their boundaries for a successful integrated work-life experience.