Balancing Work and Life at UNC
The theme of this week is babies. Babies are all over my Facebook, the Royal Baby is all over everything, and they’ve followed me to work as well! This week, I’ve gotten several questions at the Women’s Center related to pregnancy, lactation services, and childcare at UNC. With that, I have learned a lot about what services and resources are available at UNC for working parents.
Family advocacy is one of four gender equity issues that the Women’s Center focuses on, so helping parents find these resources, and advocating for a family-friendly workplace at UNC is a priority. However, these issues aren’t limited to knowing how to take FMLA when expecting a child. Working parents need help finding lactation rooms around campus, information about parking and transportation to get their child to daycare, and general support from their peers.
These issues have come up often in the focus groups I conducted with staff. Now that I’ve finished conducting focus groups and am looking for patterns in the transcripts, it is clear that work-life balance is a struggle for employees across campus, particularly employees with children. They want flextime to be seen as more legitimate by supervisors and co-workers so they can work around their kids’ schedules.They ask for support groups and mentors to talk to someone with similar experiences as a working parent. They want more new fathers to feel comfortable using paternity leave. Although there are clear challenges facing working parents, UNC employees without children described their struggle with balancing work and life as well. Employees struggle with leaving work at 5 even if the work is not done, having an opportunity for networking and social interaction with other UNC employees, and generally making time for their personal lives outside of work.
I also have issues with work-life balance, even if they are different from the struggles of employees or working parents. As a grad student, it can be easy to put work ahead of everything else at the expense of sanity. With the semester beginning in a few weeks, all of this talk about work-life balance has been a good reminder for me to make it a priority this year!