In an ultra-competitive and fast-paced work environment, finding time to care for family members at home can seem impossible.
Ms Yeo Miu Ean, president of non-profit organisation Wewam (Women Empowered for Work And Mothering) and chief success officer at work-life consultancy Charistal, has some solutions.
Q: I am really bogged down with my full-time job, but would like to spend more time attending to my aged parents. I really do like my job, though, and do not want to resign. What are my options?
A: With the ageing population and smaller families, more employees will find challenges in trying to excel in work and caring for loved ones at the same time.
Depending on the extent of care-giving needed, here are some options you can consider.
If you need one to two hours each day to support your parents, try requesting a flexible work arrangement known as staggered hours.
If regular work hours are 9am to 5pm, you can request to work from 10am to 6pm, to spend time with your parent before going to work or for home medical treatment.
Alternatively, starting an hour earlier so that you can leave earlier gives you time to have dinner with your parents or take them for walks, or to run errands.
Such arrangements can be set on specific days of the week. It will be good to reciprocate flexibility if your work requires changes to your planned staggered-hour days.
COMPRESSED WORK WEEK
If your parents need regular medical reviews or treatment, discuss with your boss about allowing you to work one more hour for four days in a week so that you can have a four-hour morning or afternoon off.
Such an arrangement is likely to cause minimal interruption to operations, for example, by starting work earlier by half an hour and leaving half an hour later.
Do remain contactable during your half day away, as your manager/colleagues/customers are still working and may need to contact you.
If the nature of your work allows you to use computer and telecommunication technology to work outside the office, discuss with your boss about trying out telecommuting.
This could allow you to work out of the office, for example, while waiting at a clinic with your elderly parent or at home. In this way, work can continue while you care for your parents.
If you require dedicated time to care for your parents, try a part-time arrangement on the same job or another job in the same company.
If your parents require full attention during a critical period, for example, during rehabilitation after illness, consider extended unpaid leave rather than resign. This allows the company to hire temporary help and yet keep the position for you when you are ready to return.
In addition to making work arrangements, do look at eldercare support services available.
You will be able to work out a win-win solution that allows your company to keep a talent and resource like you, as well as continue to have a fulfilling career while you support your loved ones.
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