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Greenville Business Magazine

Smart companies empower dual-career couples trying to have a good work-life balance

By Rebecca Lynch

In my far-too-distant twenties, my career and work-life balance looked very different than it does today. A well-stocked wine fridge for those late nights, a work-hard-play-harder culture and a few vacation days were really some of my only requirements when it came to selecting an employer. These days, while that all-important wine fridge remains, my needs are not really mine anymore and come in the form of two wonderful, strong-willed little women. 

As any parent knows, having children is the most incredible, rewarding and, let's be honest, hard experience you're ever likely to have. Any family, whatever their dynamic and day-to-day routine looks like, will still go through all the highs, lows and toddler drama. The endless activities, the ever-changing personalities and incredible—yet maddening—insistence on wearing Disney Princess costumes all day, every day (hopefully this isn't just my daughter?).

Add to the mix not one, but two full-time working parents—or "dual career couples" as we now like to label them—and you have a recipe for, well, chaos, quite frankly. Dual career couples are a juggling act, trying to negotiate, coordinate and plan as best as our hugely conflicting calendars will allow us to. Barely a day goes by without a need for me and my significant other to balance meetings and calls with after-school activities, all-too-frequent sick days and the general demands that go hand-in-hand with babies and toddlers. 

In today's society, "work-life balance" is a term that's carelessly thrown about, so much so that it often loses significance within an organization and to its employees. Many, if not most, families have dual-career couples who are just trying to make it work each day, juggling the needs of their family with the demands of work, life and everything in between. 

Actively fostering a work-life balance entails so much more than just talking about it; it requires policies, compassion and awareness. It requires an understanding within an organization and a commitment to not only acknowledge the challenges working families face, but to do their very best to support them head-on. 

Companies can offer all the bells, whistles and fancy work environments they like, but when it comes down to it what really matters, to working families everywhere, is flexibility. A company that is willing to adapt with and for working families is a company that is going to retain and attract employees in that phase of life. To be flexible and compassionate about the work-life balance that all families are trying to achieve is no longer a nice-to-have, it's a necessity.

Trust plays a huge part in this. Trust that your employees are going to do their job, and do it well, no matter whether they're working from home or jumping online late at night to make up for missed hours while we attend those adorable, but inconveniently timed, dance recitals at school. Conversation and open communication between employers and employees help build this trust and establish an understanding that flexibility is not about shirking responsibility or asking for a pass on your job—it is about empowering dual career couples and families, and giving them the opportunity to avoid sacrifice, both on a personal and professional level.

Never, ever underestimate the importance of a company willing to invest in working families. I'm incredibly lucky to work for one, EP+Co, which prides itself on helping you find the right balance—on helping you feel, even for just a small moment in time, that maybe you can have it all. That maybe, even amongst the inevitable craziness, late nights and endless catching up, it is possible for you and your significant other to both have careers and raise two little people to the best of your ability. 

The support and encouragement for working parents is woven throughout the fabric of the agency and is paramount in many of their policies and cultural initiatives. Work-from-home flexibility, designated hours to attend family obligations and a culture that embraces the needs of your family make this dual-career couple thing possible. It makes it manageable and somewhat, dare I say, enjoyable?

It's no less than what working families, in any shape or size, deserve.