How to Talk About Work-Life Balance With Your Boss

Work-life balance has been a rising trend over the last few years, with leading companies offering their employees the ability to work from home, paid wellness days for sick leave, or the autonomy to control their schedules with flexible hours. At its core, work-life balance allows staff to live a happy, fulfilled life with limited stress. Most often as an employee, that means taking steps to reduce work-related tension and create a workflow that fits your mindset and your lifestyle.

But according to research, 66% of full-time employees still say they don’t strongly believe they have work-life balance. What’s more is that this lack of balance can cause negative repercussions at work and at home, ranging from chronic stress to low productivity to burnout. Fully achieving work-life balance takes more than just a personal commitment. To build a successful balance between your work and your personal life, you need the commitment and the help of your supervisor. Here are some tips for getting your boss on board.

Create a list of things you’d like to change and why

What changes do you want to make specifically regarding your job? Sit down and think about what behavioral changes you need to put in to practice to find a balance between your work and your personal life. This could be something as simple as coming into the office 30 minutes early to avoid rush hour traffic or working from home once a week for some focused heads-down time. Consider how these changes will benefit your employer and your workflow. When you’re done, rank them by priority: your must-haves at the top and your wants but not needs at the bottom. (The must-haves are the items you want to advocate for first, the wants are just bonus items that you’d like to have, but they aren’t what you want to be fixed right away.)

Practice the conversation

Practicing the conversation with your boss beforehand allows you to view your requests from both sides. Your boss may not see your situation the same way that you do, so take the time to consider the questions or concerns they may have with your proposal before your meeting. Showcase your foresight and creative problem-solving skills by coming up with potential solutions. Understand that you can’t guarantee that your boss will agree with your desired changes, so be open to discuss, prioritize, and compromise. If it helps, practice a rejection conversation just in case to prepare yourself to maintain a good relationship with your boss even if the outcome isn’t what you hope for.

Schedule a sit-down

Instead of dropping by your boss’s office on a whim, schedule a sit-down meeting. Keep in mind that your manager could be busy, so be flexible with the time and date. Give yourself enough time before the meeting to prepare and provide them with an agenda in advance so their full attention is focused on your goals. Before you meet with them, consider your current relationship. If you’re still working on building up a rapport with them, it may be more effective to present your ideas slowly over time instead of all at once. If you feel comfortable sharing your problems in an honest and open fashion, you have a better chance to air all the things you’d like to change.

Lead the meeting

Approach the one-on-one conversation with honesty—let your boss know how you’re feeling. When you’re presenting your request, frame your recommended changes in ways that benefit the organization and the work you’re doing. How will your requests allow you to improve your work output? What’s the benefit that it brings for your manager? If you can find data on increased productivity for employees who make the changes you’re requesting, bring it. Preparation is essential!

Be open to negotiate

After you’ve presented your requests, be ready to listen to your boss’s opinions. Be clear that you’re willing to negotiate on the details of your plans if it means getting the desired outcome. This is the time to bring up alternative solutions and co-create what these could look like for you and your boss. Negotiating may mean compromising some items on your list, but if everyone is happy with the end results, you could have more wiggle room to bring them up later on.

What if your employer isn’t receptive to your ideas?

If you’re having a tough time convincing your boss, it’s time to think outside of the box. Make it a conversation—ask about their concerns with the proposal and jot down any pain points they may share with you. If needed, come up with a new plan that addresses their apprehensions and schedule another meeting to renegotiate. Again, starting with just a few minor changes to get your boss comfortable with your workflow changing is always a good route.

Work-life balance and professional development go hand in hand. Read here to take the next steps of your development into your own hands.