Health 1st, Family 2nd & Work 3rd ….What’s Your Order?

Last week a candidate of mine become ill only 2 weeks into her new permanent job.  She felt terribly guilty about taking any time off believing that she would not be creating a great first impression.  She spoke to her new boss and surprisingly he said to her “take off as many days as you need to get better – health comes first, family second and work third”.  How many bosses take the same approach I wonder? I was certainly impressed.  So, this candidate took 3 days off getting herself better and returned happy, confident and not at all guilty. 

I am not sure this case would be overly common in the business world.  As this week, I caught up with another client who complained that “Sally” was off sick yet again – her 5th day in only a matter of months.  He felt that it was disrupting to work flows and she was becoming unreliable.  I enquired if she was really sick and he admitted that she wasn’t well and hadn’t been for several days – ‘isn’t it better that she is at home and doesn’t spread it around to everyone else?’ I enquired. He wasn’t overly convinced and mumbled something in his coffee about ‘yes but….”.

So saying health first, family second and work third – is this just a new employer saying the right thing to impress a new recruit or is it firmly held value and belief that is practiced as well as preached?

I personally can relate to this new order.  After my second child in August 2009, I returned to work in early 2010 with the all the gung-ho spirit and energy to conquer the world.  In reality what was happening was I was struggling to get enough gas in the tank just to get out of bed in the morning.  No amount of coffee, self-talk or sugar-hits could make me physically replicate what I mentally wanted to be – the energiser bunny!   I put it down to being a mother of 2 under five, wife, career woman, the baby waking in the night, not getting enough ‘me’ time etc etc.  Not once did I consider that it was potentially a health problem.

 Months and months of “running on empty” with all sorts of self-diagnosis, friendly family advice and incorrect GP conclusions – led me to make health a priority to figure out what exactly was going on.  A long story short was yes in fact I was suffering from hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The results came in a matter of weeks all from changing my priorities to making health number one and it positively impacted on all the other areas of my life.  Suddenly I could read bed time stories without yawning, the business revenues increased and I was able to successfully juggle all the things on my plate.

 This breakthrough moment has certainly reinforced to me that health must come first to enable me to make family a priority and only then can I be truly effective and productive as a leader in my business.

 What’s your order?

5 thoughts on “Health 1st, Family 2nd & Work 3rd ….What’s Your Order?

  1. I think all people can relate. My general manager includes a segment in all employee contracts now titled ‘manage self’. Highlighting that we all need to take personal time and proactively manage our health to ensure that we are productive and enthusiastic whilst at work. Not easy to achieve, especially when you sometimes can’t see the forest for the trees when you are juggling many roles and responsibilities. For me personally, I cannot stand staff bringing their illnesses to work – it generally brings down more people and we all take longer to get over it. So putting health first is a necessity otherwise there is no career. That is why i make time during work to go for a run as this is not just a physical health necessity for me but a mental one too. If i don’t achieve this a couple of times a week, my work and focus is disrupted. The balance comes when you include the family…… happy to hear advice from others on that one, not sure I’m achieving it. However, by trying to do something exciting with the kids each weekend then i hope they’ll remember those trips to feed ducks, fish & chips on the beach etc over the fact that mummy works too much!!

  2. Isn’t it funny when you read these types of articles and think to yourself… I really must do that! As a long time HR professional I say all the right things to others, especially my team, but in reality, I’m not the greatest role model in this area! Juggling the priorities of being a good mother, wife, home maker whilest being career driven and ambitious is difficult. Giving my health priority, hmm I do only when I absolutely have to! Having said that, I’m careful about what I eat and drink, stay active and get at least 7 hours sleep most nights. For all the young mums out there, it gets easier as the children get older, althought that almost always correlates to your parents getting older and needing more assistance as well. It’s all good fun… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  3. Thanks Nicole – I really appreciated this article. As a new mum with a 3 month old, plus running my own business with my husband, I am going to have a whole new ‘work life balance’ experience the more I get back into work, now that I have a little one to think of as well, not just myself. It will really be a case of ‘walking the talk’ as our business is all about promoting and providing practical services to help our clients with work life balance. Its great to hear that there are employers out there who understand the importance of health and family, and if they support this, then employees are going to be a much better member or their organisation – a win-win for all!

    • Hi Abbie

      I saw your lovely photo in the paper yesterday. Congratulations on the arrival of Harper – what a cutie!

      Your absolutely spot on. I have certainly found that being more flexible and leading by example works wonders for the team. They feel supported and encouraged to have this balance too.


  4. Pingback: Quit while you’re ahead…10 tips for going out on top | News | Nicole Underwood

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