Dear Matt: Summer is the busy season where I work, but I'd like to have more time off to spend with my family (and be able to make my son's baseball games at night). My boss doesn't understand this, and wants me working six days a week to get the work done. What can I do?
Matt: Be careful about saying your boss doesn't understand this. He or she most likely does, but is under pressure to perform and achieve expectations, and in order to do that, the company needs you to work and perform at a high level during this time of the year. I doubt your boss likes working six days a week as well, but there are projects to be done and deadlines to be met.
In some professions there is just no way around it: the company needs you to get the work done. If your industry demands it - for example, in construction, where the timeline to get projects done in Minnesota is all too short, or accounting, where April 15th can't come soon enough for tax professionals - then you really are at the mercy of not just your employer, but the industry in which you work.
Have you discussed all potential options with your boss? Is there any amicable solution? Don't just assume your boss isn't open to a solution unless you have presented a plan with the steps you will take to make it work.
Here are some tips to consider. In these scenarios, could you:
Come in earlier and leave early on the days you want to attend your son's baseball games?
Work extra hours on some days to spend more time with your family on other days?
Trade shifts with other workers and have them cover for you on nights you need to leave, while you cover for them when they need to leave?
Bring your work with you and stay connected through a BlackBerry or e-mail? You still can attend the baseball game, but remain available to answer questions if needed.
Leave work early and then come back after the game?
Work from home more to avoid commute times, allowing you to be home at times you normally are not?
Have the family come by the office on Saturdays - or other days if it works - to have lunch, allowing for more time together?
The fact is that some careers and professions don't allow the work-life balance we all dream about. If you can develop a fair plan, then approach your boss with ideas and solutions on how to make it work. If it doesn't or your company just can't be flexible, ask for a trade-off for more time with your family during the non-busy season.
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has eight years of experience reporting on the employment industry. The first Sunday of each month this column will answer readers’ questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.