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Our Favourite Reasons to Leave Work, On Time, With Your Head Held High

In the 21st century, lives are busy and we're all juggling our own priorities, but there are times when it's important to put work aside and leave, on time, with your head held high


Everyone has a busy schedule these days. Whether you're carting children to and from activities or trying to make it to their school play or a doctors appointment, we all have a lot of plates to juggle.

As parents, not only do our own priorities take precedence - so do those of our children. As a working mother or father, those late afternoon parent/teacher conferences or middle of the day recitals can play on our minds.

  • Should I be leaving work in order to fit in my parenting commitments?
  • How much is too much?
  • How can I prove that I am still doing my job?

Leaving the office to get to your child's parent/teacher conference isn't wrongParents that work flexibly

We know that flexible working is becoming more and more prominent and that work can be done from the school gates or at 8pm once the children are in bed, but parents still slink out of the office and apologise for making their work and family life work.

Feeling guilty when you have children

Gillian Nissam, from Working Mums, says:

"Parents can often feel slightly guilty about leaving the office on time to pick up children, especially if everyone else is still firmly tapping away at their computers - even if they got in early and have finished all their work."

"Partly, this is our perception of what others are thinking and they may not be thinking this at all. It is also due to a culture of presenteeism which has become more entrenched with the recession. This is something that affects all workers and it requires good management, which values productivity over hours spent at a desk to deal with it. If you've got your work done, you should feel no guilt at leaving on time."

As an employee, it's about finding out how you work as part of your team, it's about communicating and it's about not feeling the need to apologise all the time.

Combating the culture of presenteeism

Think about your own experiences, do you feel more comfortable when:

  1. Your colleague leaves making excuses?
  2. They state that they are leaving, highlight when they will be back and what will happen while they are gone?

For most people, option B is the winner.

Why should you ditch the guilt and hold your head up?

We asked Working Mums to give us their top reasons why you should leave work, on time, with your head held high.

Priorities change as a parent

Get adjusted to the new reality. It may be that your colleagues are fine with you leaving on time and that it is just your perception that they think you are not pulling your weight. If they are making comments, however, that is a different matter. It can be difficult to know how to deal with these. Humour is a good tool and one you can use to gently educate them about the demands of your new life. Good managers will help to address such issues if they are persistent.

Being present

Presenteeism is not an effective system of management. It doesn't produce the best out of employees. It treats them like children or worse, prison inmates, rather than grown-ups who can manage their own work schedule and know exactly what is needed to get their work done.

Who is working more effectively?: The parent who gets in at 8, keeps their head down and is out the door, with all their work done by 4pm, or the person who spends half the day going in and out of Facebook or making tea because they know they have to stay at the office till 7 or 8 just to make their manager think they are not slacking.

It's smart business

It makes business sense for employees not to get burnt out. Stress is a growing problem in the workplace and a cause of absenteeism. Continuously doing crazy hours leads to illness and affects productivity. It's not sustainable. Employers who recognise the benefits of supporting working parents and carers have reaped the rewards in terms of talent retention.

A balanced agenda

It's good for everyone that people have a balanced life and not one that is totally dominated by work. Having something else in your life has a positive effect on work. It gives you a different perspective and can spark new ideas which you wouldn't have if you spend your life stuck in a work tunnel all week and the weekend attempting some sort of half-recovery so you can do it all again the next week.

Face-to-face time

It seems a no-brainer, but it's good for society that children get to see their parents. Full time used to mean 9-5pm in any event. Nowadays it seems to mean all the time. In any event, technology now allows people to access work at all hours.

If an urgent situation arises, employees can log back in later and respond to emergencies. The benefits of mobile working are mutual - staff are not tied to their desks and businesses prosper by being able to cover for longer hours which can give them the edge in a global marketplace.

Society is changing

spending quality time with your children needs to balance with the time you spend at work

It is estimated that 80% of employees will at some point become parents and more and more women are staying in the workplace after having children. All employees have parents. People are living longer, but having more chronic health problems and will require ongoing care, particularly given the cuts in welfare provision. That will mean that work and life will become more merged in order for society to continue to function.

Employers who recognise the various pulls on their employees' time will have more engaged, committed staff who will be more willing to go the extra mile when necessary.

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