Rethinking the Work-Life Equation
There’s an interesting New York Times article discussing exactly what work life balance is and its benefits. I consistently stress to organizations and managers about the importance of being flexible with employees. We’re still early in the process of gaining acceptance for the benefits of this and here’s a personal story where things didn’t go so well.
Two years ago I had a job interview at an educational institution I really wanted to work at. After making an 8 person panel interview laugh and give me reassuring nods, I felt confident about my performance. Not only did I give thorough answers, but I felt like I was truly myself in the interview.
The next day the hiring manager called to talk salary and check references. I couldn’t believe the speed of this recruitment and took this as a good sign that things moved quickly there, the same way I like to do recruitments. A few more days passed and I envisioned myself working there, figuring out the commute, and checking out my potential new co-workers on LinkedIn. Quickly, I got the hiring manager phone call…. “Anna we’re pleased to offer you this position…., the salary is…., the vacation is….., and the core hours of work are 8:30am to 4:45pm”.
(Side note: I’m a morning person. I have family commitments and it’s a really long commute. I’ve always started work at 8am in previous roles with no issues.)
I respond by saying, “thank you very much – I’m really excited to join your team – is it possible to start at 8:00am and finish at 4:15pm?” Her tone quickly changed and she indicated it wasn’t possible, what if someone came to my office at 4:30pm and I wasn’t there? So many thoughts went through my mind as I responded to this. I mentioned my work ethic, my previous roles, my quick email turn-around times and the fact that the institution had an entire website promoting flexible working conditions. Ultimately, we ended the conversation with her indicating she’d get back to me and send the offer letter, but inside I knew it wasn’t good. I sent an email thanking her for the verbal offer and I that I looked forward to receiving her return response. She was two days behind calling me and never sent the letter. In the meantime, I decided that I would do the hours she requested because I really wanted this position.
She finally calls, and before I could say I’d work the specified hours, she firmly told me she was rescinding the verbal offer and quickly hung up. I was in shock. I lost a position over being forward with wanting 30 minutes of flexibility. Or was it more than that, did she think I had a bad attitude? As much as I wanted to take this to social media and launch a discrimination case, I realized I avoided a potentially bad situation there. If my new boss was that inflexible at this point, I don’t think it could have worked for me there.
Sadly this may/may not have been a good fit, but we never got to find out based on the needless rigidity of that manager. When interviewing or hiring with millennials involved that lack of flexibility won’t work.