According to a survey released by The New York Times, three of the top four reasons people are having fewer kids are economic consideration. It can be incredibly hard for working parents to justify the costs of childcare, with many simply choosing to leave the job market instead. But that isn't an option for single parents and those on lower wages.
That's a reality Ian Sohn knows all too well. A single dad of two and president of a digital agency called Wunderman Chicago, Sohn comes across as the best boss in the world. He recently took to LinkedIn with a strong defense of work-life balance, especially for parents. His post starts:
"I never need to know you’ll be back online after dinner."
"I never need to know why you chose to watch season 1 of Arrested Development (for the 4th time) on your flight to LA instead of answering emails.
"I never need to know you’ll be in late because of a dentist appointment. Or that you’re leaving early for your kid’s soccer game."
"I never need to know why you can’t travel on a Sunday."
"I never need to know why you don’t want to have dinner with me when I’m in your town on a Tuesday night."
"I never need to know that you’re working from home today because you simply need the silence."
Sohn goes on to explain why he never needs to know why his employees might be unavailable.
"I deeply resent how we’ve infantilized the workplace. How we feel we have to apologize for having lives. That we don’t trust adults to make the right decisions. How constant connectivity/availability (or even the perception of it) has become a valued skill."
"I'm equally grateful for the trust / respect my peers, bosses and teams show me every day."
Sohn's relaxed approach comes from previous experience.
"Years ago a very senior colleague reacted with incredulity that I couldn’t fly on 12 hours notice because I had my kids that night (and I'm a single dad). I didn’t feel the least bit guilty, which I could tell really bothered said colleague. But it still felt horrible."
"I never want you to feel horrible for being a human being."
Since it was posted yesterday, Sohn's open letter had attracted over 12,000 likes and 500 comments from people who seem to relate.
In the comments, Sohn goes on to clarify that by “never needing to know” he means that his employees “you never need to apologize for” having work-life balance.
People applauded Sohn's approach, saying it needs to become the norm in business.
“Props to you for saying it out loud. It gets easier and more important the higher you are on the ladder. We need to make it the norm. We don't [own] another human's life because they agree to work for us. Trust them to do the right thing, and your odds are so much better that you'll get it,” one user wrote.
Another added, “Amen! I don’t know when we lost autonomy in the workplace but it’s so important for personal and professional growth.”
“Love this sentiment. Really meaningful for parents with smaller children who just can't put the job first every time,” one LinkedIn commenter concluded.
“I share this same view very much. I'm not in my role to parent but rather to lead and support. If more leaders adopted this approach, imagine how productive businesses could be,” another user wrote.