Finding the Formula for Genuine Work-life Balance
Family demands lead to greater job flexibility for one working mother. Read Caroline Hall’s story of working for SHL and the keys to work-life balance.
Starting work as a recruiter at SHL in 2019 was a big culture shift. My last job was in a large corporate organization, so moving to SHL, which has about 1,500 people worldwide, was really refreshing. I went from being in a large team and often not seeing the impact of my work to working in a smaller, more collaborative team where things happen more quickly, and you have visibility of the impact your efforts have made. Everyone has real drive and focus, plus the business itself is interesting and changing all the time. But alongside the professionalism, the workplace feels informal and friendly with a definite family and community feel to it—something that I feel is special about this company.
Balancing life and work starts with the family
The feeling of being in a supportive environment has been especially prominent since I have been with the company. My husband and I have three children and our middle child has struggled with his gender identity since he was a young teenager, which caused many years of depression and distress. It was extremely hard to witness as a mother. He finally talked about everything he was experiencing about four years ago and in the last two years has been through a process of gender-affirming care. He came out as transgender (FTM) during the pandemic and is now much happier living as his true self, albeit with a long journey ahead. He is now planning to go to university to study Psychology and I have no doubt he will one day be able to help others who face similar challenges to those he has faced. As his mother, I could not be more proud.
Alongside the professionalism, the workplace feels informal and friendly with a definite family and community feel to it—something that I feel is special about this company.
A flexible approach that helps build work-life balance
Of course, it has been hard at times working full-time while supporting my children, as well as my husband, plus generally keeping the home and family going. However, my manager has been incredibly understanding. I was working five days a week and my son was reaching some key milestones in his journey. The stress I was feeling must have been obvious and my boss asked me if I was okay. I was open and honest with her, and we agreed that in the short term, I would take some time out to concentrate on my own well-being and that of my family. For the longer term, she suggested different ways of working from a sabbatical to reduced hours and we have now agreed that for the time being, the latter would be the best option. I believe that flexibility is vital if you want to build an inclusive work culture with a good work-life balance. I have just come back, and it feels good to be at work again. I know the flexibility is there if I need time off to go to an appointment with my son. I am trusted to do my job, so I can decide when I am in the office or work from home.
Working with people who are so genuinely supportive is wonderful. There seems to be a general understanding in SHL that people have things going on in their lives and the approach is to be flexible to get the best out of any person. Having that—on top of it being such an interesting business—makes it a great place to work.