When we asked Aerotek recruiters about setting workplace boundaries to help with work/life balance, what they told us sounded a lot like relationship advice.
Whether it’s with your boss or with a co-worker, it’s up to you to set your own boundaries that keep you comfortable and happy. Don’t expect your employer to read your mind or find your balance for you. Boundaries are what make relationships healthy, and what keep people from wallowing in a distrustful stew of discomfort, resentment and guilt.
Here are some approaches to work/life boundary-setting.
Be honest and demand honesty in return
Setting boundaries can be scary. It opens up the possibility that the other party might disagree with you. But letting your fear keep you from being honest about what you need, or keep you from demanding that same honesty from others, will lead to future problems.
An important note: Being honest about what you need means being honest with yourself. Make sure you do a good self-appraisal, take your limitations into account, and don’t be afraid to make them known right up front. Doing so sets the tone for the relationship.
Practice active, clear and open communication
As important as honesty is for setting boundaries, communication is what makes boundaries work. Think of it like this: Honesty is how you decide where to put the fence, communication is what you do to maintain the fence’s integrity.
What does “active, clear, and open communication” actually look like?
First, it means doing your part to understand your employer’s policies. Does your employer offer flex-time or work from home options, and if so, what procedures are in place? What’s the story on annual leave accrual? If you don’t know or need clarification, ask. Don’t assume that your employer wants to keep it a secret.
Another way to make sure communication is active, clear, and open is to be proactive. Do you know you’ll need to take some time off? Let your employer know as soon in advance as you can. They’ll appreciate it, and being proactive reminds the other party to keep you in the loop whenever a development might affect you.
Be flexible with give and take
So you’ve been honest with yourself and your employer about where your boundaries are, and you’re communicating well to make sure those boundaries are maintained. What happens next?
Well, now you have to make sure you both hold up your end of the bargain. It’s a give and take. As long as you know the expectations, you can make sure that you are consistently meeting them, and not leaving anything hanging or unfinished.
As long as you’re getting the expected amount of work done, your work/life balance or hours spent in the office will rarely be an issue.
Any healthy relationship is build on trust and boundaries, and this includes your relationships with your employer. If you’ve tried to set boundaries and had them routinely ignored, it might be time to look for new options. Our specialist recruitment consultants are always happy to share opportunities in your area.