The term “work/life balance” is thrown around a lot. I’m guilty of it, too. Whether it’s from the media or from our own concerns about finding the right balance, work/life balance can be a bit, well, overused. When I really stop to think about it, though, I think we’re over complicating things. Let’s be real. It’s just life. Unless you were born with a serious trust fund, we all have to earn money to fund the things we do while we’re not working (can someone say Napa trip, 3rd house project of the year or Apple gadget of the month?).
Thankfully, I have an amazing job and get to work with smart people in and outside of my company. My husband, Brett, and I also have a little girl, Audrey (14 months), and love our family time away from work. I’ve stopped trying to separate the two. It’s just life. I don’t find my identity in my job or my family. The two work together to make me who I am. Both will contribute to my legacy.
So much scrutiny about a private decision
Wonder where I’m going with this? There was coverage aplenty about Marissa Mayer’s recent announcement that she would take two weeks off work for the impending birth of her twin girls in December. Most of the coverage included opinions such as, “She’s not setting a good example,” “She is setting a good example, “and “She should have at least acknowledged that two weeks was short!” You can catch my drift here.
I support her right to make her own decision based on what she feels is best for Yahoo and her family. Come on—let’s cut her some slack. However, I have to say that personally, if we’re being real here, I may have showered three times at most during the first two weeks after my daughter was born. This new mama did not need to be going into work. In thinking about Mayer’s decision and situation, this whole discussion brought to mind several things I wanted to share.
Flexibility from employers makes decisions easier
Whether you’re single, married, kids or no kids, you still need both life and work to blend. Companies have started to realize that and we’ve heard about some examples where top companies offer generous leave time as part of their benefits packages. Synergis takes that seriously as well; however, in our industry, generous leave and time off options have not been (and still aren’t) the norm. At Synergis, over 70% of our employees are in direct production roles. If they leave for an extended period of time, it’s very likely the company’s productivity could suffer. That’s why I’m so impressed and proud to know that Synergis is willing to move beyond that risk to make sure our employees and their families are taken care of. We recently rolled out an employee leave plan with the following highlights:
- Birth mothers who are also primary caregivers will receive 12 weeks paid leave to both recuperate medically and spend key bonding time with their children
- Primary caregivers who are not also the birth mother will receive six weeks paid leave to spend important bonding time with their children
- Non-primary caregivers will receive two weeks paid leave to spend with their families
These benefits were designed to allow all Synergis employees the opportunity to spend critical time with their families after the addition of a child or children. This includes adoption, foster placements and/or other circumstance where our employees take on parental rights of a child.
In addition, our employee leave policies outside of maternity situations offer tremendous flexibility for our team, including:
- Three-to-five weeks of PTO each year (based on tenure)
- 11 paid holidays
- A paid, four-week sabbatical every five years
- Five days of bereavement leave for the passing of a family member or loved one
- Flexible work schedules and telecommuting
- Summer hours program that includes shortened work days every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day
Just over two years ago, I partnered with Stephen Stringer to launch sync (Synergis Creative), the creative division of Synergis. Only a year into the new division, I took advantage of the maternity leave policy. No doubt, a nerve-wracking time to leave. But I knew our three new team members, with Stephen’s leadership, would be just fine. Leaders are truly successful only when their teams can succeed without them. I was gone for twelve weeks, and yes, it was a tough, demanding and stressful time for our team, but they did an amazing job. While the team was productive and successfully filled the void, they were definitely happy to have me back full-time. You see, Synergis and I share the same philosophy—if we take care of our people, the bottom line will take care of itself.
To be honest, I was super nervous about being gone for such a long time; however, after spending such a special time with my little girl (time that I will never get back), I would do it all over again. I better understand the importance of taking time off work and how we all need some flexibility in our lives. It makes us more productive while we are at work and makes us appreciate the time away. Now I make it a point to take an “Audrey Day” of PTO once a month and even recently returned from a one month sabbatical. Did I say Synergis was amazing? Yes, I still answer emails when Audrey is playing outside, and yes, I still check in with daycare and shop online for diapers while I’m at work. It’s the shmushed together, tangled-up version of my life and I’m blessed I work for a company that supports me in that life.