By Sabrina Cook
Hickory’s first NCACPA Women’s Initiative event was a great success! On October 27th, NCACPA members from industry, public practice, and education gathered for lunch at Fourk for a lively discussion of work-life balance. Prior to meeting, attendees took time to read two articles, 8 Ways to Achieve Better Work-Life Balance and Rethinking the Work-Life Equation, to spark conversation.
A common theme of the conversation was that work-life balance is not a concern limited to women. It impacts all of our colleagues regardless of sex, marital status, parental status, or age, and therefore, it is important to embrace a forward-thinking approach to workplace flexibility in our management conversations wherever we work. We also discussed the idea that work-life balance looks different at different times of the year, and that it is unreasonable to expect full balance at all times. Given our wide range of employers, we were able to compare and contrast written and informal workplace flexibility policies, what seems to work and what doesn’t, and inherent challenges of a flexible workplace where people may not be adhering to a rigid office schedule and location. We also shared stories of times we had appreciated our employers’ flexible policies, whether it allowed us to care for children, aging parents, or ourselves.
According to Rethinking the Work-Life Equation by Susan Dominus, research suggests that employees are more productive when they work for a company that embraces a culture of flexibility, rather than one that has a policy that allows for flexibility “per manager’s discretion.” Employees tend to hold back and not use the policy if they must ask permission. In our roundtable discussion, we found this to be true in our personal experiences. Our teams are built on trust, and flexibility can only work with trust, so it seemed to many of us to be a very natural progression to allow employees greater flexibility once they have earned that trust.
Thanks to Fourk on Fourth Street (get it?) for a delicious lunch, and thanks to Laura Cowan and NCACPA for supporting the Women’s Initiative in Hickory. Stay tuned for a pre-tax season event in December or January to discuss women in leadership roles.
Sabrina P. Cook, CPA, works for Martin Starnes and Associates, CPAs, PA, in Hickory, NC, primarily focusing in the areas of corporate, fiduciary, and estate tax. She is on the NCACPA Member Engagement Team (MET) and is active in the Hickory Networking Group. You can reach her at [email protected].