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The Glass Hammer
The Glass Hammer2
The Glass Hammer
by Caroline Shannon (Pittsburg)
Joyce DeLucca is a mom of two living in the Big Apple, where she works as the managing principal of Kingsland Capital Management LLC . When she first started out, she struggled on a daily basis with balancing the competing demands of her family life and work life until finding a creative way to avoid missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime moments with her children.
Dee Merey is a single mom and founder of a public relations firm, DM Public Relations. But despite the success of her Manhattan-based firm, Merey's biggest and most important client is a five-year-old. And that's because he's her son.
"I do set out my priorities with respect to work and family, and stick to what is most important in terms of preparing my schedule" says Merey, 39. "Lower priority items do get cut. But we do have to make choices and if the most important obligations are fulfilled, I do feel less stressed and more balanced."
Both DeLucca and Merey are acting on a notion that many employees and employers are also beginning to stick with when it comes to achieving a work-life balance -- that is, a work environment that also leans on the importance of home life.
One such effort comes from Catalyst, a leading nonprofit membership organization that works globally with businesses to build wide-ranging workplaces and increase opportunities for women in business. The organization recently developed an approach called Work-Life Effectiveness, which was designed to help businesses employ solutions that would support a successful workplace while still attending to the needs of employees.
"A little bit of balance means a little less stress," says DeLucca. "The reality is more like sometimes the balance is tipped in favor of work, sometimes in favor of family or personal life. But the key is giving yourself enough of a break to allow it to work."
DeLucca has implemented a company nursery that allowed her to bring her two daughters to work when they were babies.
"Managing complex financial instruments in a volatile market demands long hours at the office, but I refused to miss all those one-of-a-kind moments you have during your baby's first years," says DeLucca. "For me, the way to have it all and skip the guilt trip was to bring [my daughters] to work."
The "guilt trip" is what inspired Kathleen Benson, president of Office Remedies, Inc. , to build her Herndon, Virginia-based company around the idea that employees deserve an environment that is conducive to their lives at home.
"We fully encourage a healthy work-life balance among our employees, many of whom have children at home as well as other care giving responsibilities," says Benson, 47, who is a mother of two. "Many employees work from home, which gives the flexibility to work more convenient hours as well as accommodate their children's school schedules."
Benson also works to provide employees with flextime options, so that they may adjust their schedules to fulfill personal needs. And when staying at home is a necessity, work-at-home employees are provided with laptops for work use. What's more, Benson says the work-life balance is possible within any organization.
"What it comes down to is ensuring that the parameters of those work options are clear and that employees understand what scenarios are available to them," Benson says. "That way, there is no grey area to be overstepped by either the employer or the employee. By treating each employee's work-life situation with respect, I have found that not only do the employees appreciate it, but they respect the guidelines and ultimately, become extremely loyal and professional employees."
And Benson, like DeLucca and Merey is quick to point out that a supportive family also helps to create a more successful work-life balance.
"Even the most skilled multi-tasker can't read a story, manage a meltdown or take a toddler to music class while running a business," says DeLucca. "So, it's important to have help you can trust -- a nanny, a part-timer office worker, or a retiree. It's also critical to establish a routine and stick to it."
Benson said she often leans on her husband and kids for support, and Merey is thankful to be able to count on her fellow associates for a helping hand.
And as for where she ranks a healthy balance of work and personal life, DeLucca says:
"It's the key to sanity."