Work-life balance, put to the test
How Slalom stood behind me during one of the hardest times in my life
Most companies have a set of core values, though it’s not always clear how those values are demonstrated day to day. I confess: as an employee, I’ve sometimes thought, “Oh those are nice,” but I don’t have a real expectation that my company embodies or stands behind a particular value.
That changed this past spring. After being with Slalom for a little over a year, my own values were tested under challenging personal circumstances. If it came down to it and I needed to take a leave of absence, could I trust that I would have a job when I got back and I would be financially secure? In my mind, I had three options:
- Stay in Washington and make regular weekend trips down to California to be with family
- Take a leave of absence
- Work remotely from California for an unknown amount of time
I knew that if I did not spend as much time in California as I could, I would regret it. After a couple of weeks of talking to family, friends, and mentors–and even making a weekend trip home–I knew what I needed to do.
I met with my boss, filled him in on what was going on with my family, and made the request to work remotely. I told him I was not sure how long I would need to be down there. Without any hesitation he said, “That’s fine, this is just work and we can manage.” That day we communicated with my client and I purchased a one-way ticket to California. By the end of the week I was back with my family.
Yes, my job already has some built-in flexibility. I can mostly do my job from anywhere in the world. Still, I work on a team, so I’d be missing out on important face time with both my team and client. This was not an insignificant sacrifice or act of support from my manager and company.
Going home proved more difficult than expected. While my family and I prepared for my grandmother to pass away, hard changes occurred in personal relationships back in Washington. On top of everything else, this made work—let alone thinking clearly—very difficult. After checking in with my manager, I requested a mental health day to clear my mind for rest and recovery.
Before I could take that day, my sister went into labor (with her first child!), and both my project manager and manager said, “Go, don’t worry about work; we have it covered.” This included covering a deployment that I was supposed to take the lead on. Two days later, my manager stood behind my mental health day even though I had missed a day to be in the delivery room with my sister.
The day off was fun, though it ended with me being taken to the ER with kidney stones! The same night, my sister ended up back in the hospital with fever and complications from delivery (all is well now, thank goodness). To say my family was stretched thin was an understatement. My manager and team kept telling me to take care of myself.
The following week, my beloved grandmother passed away, and my boss graciously told me to take whatever time I needed. Her funeral was not until the following Friday, so flights had to be rearranged so that I could be there to help coordinate and celebrate her life and what she meant to me.
As I prepared to return to Washington after being gone for a little over a month, I knew that the Washington I had left was not the Washington I was returning to. But I returned even more grateful for the job—and the people I work with—than ever before.
While I navigated one of the hardest times of my life, I felt the trust and support from my team to allow me to do what I needed to do. I saw them stand behind and fully embody one of our core values. When Slalom says work-life balance is a priority, it means it. Slalom consistently looked out for me, sent flowers—not once, but twice—and had my back through a very challenging time.
This compassion enabled me to be with my family during a trying but significant time. That is something I will always be grateful for.
I truly feel blessed and thankful for where I work and who I work with. And I’m grateful to work in an organization that aligns with and lives out its commitment to work-life balance and doing what is right—always.