What do workers with chronic illness need to thrive in their jobs? When I was asked to speak to an audience of doctors and employers, I said that FLEXIBILITY RULES.
It’s hard for healthy people to realize how important work/life balance is for those with chronic illness — when health demands impact a “normal” work schedule. With a whopping 45% of the American workforce living with chronic illness, that’s a lot of people.
In fact, when talking about work/life balance, most people think of working mothers. Stop Talking About Work+Life Flex Solely in the Context of Women…Really, Seriously, Once and for All, work +life fit, inc., makes a strong case that flexibility in the workplace is not solely a woman’s issue. Men need it just as much and must be included in this conversation. In fact, research shows that men have as high a degree of work/life conflict as women.
Yet both men and women who show interest in work/life balance – -or the need for more flexibility in their work – – are often perceived as demanding, difficult employees. It’s especially true for those with chronic illness.
Just today, a client (with severe asthma and migraines) emailed to tell me that she got a poor performance review. She has the support from senior management to work at home when she’s not well. But her supervisor hasn’t been happy about it. Her supervisor’s primary complaint? The team complains that she behaves like she’s entitled to this special treatment and resent her for it. Working at home is creating the impression that she doesn’t care about the team as much as she cares about her own needs.
Whose problem is this, anyway?
Why is it so difficult to realize this simple truth? People are more likely to deliver their best performance when they can keep their work life and the rest of their lives in a state of balance.