You don't have to toil late at the office to get ahead.
Get a life outside of work.
You'll be more refreshed, creative and productive in the long run.
The principles of some counterculture work ethic? Not quite. It's the opinion of Jane Schindewolf, a marketing manager at DuPont Automotive. And her employer, she said, buys into it completely. She has been able to put her beliefs into practice using her company's flexible work options.
Schindewolf, 36, co-manages a team of 90 people who sell plastics, elastomers and fibers to the automotive industry. Her weekly regimen balances 50 to 60 hours of work with outside activities and time with her husband and daughters Lindsay, 6, and Emily, 3.
How well does she do it? Working Mother magazine thinks she does it quite nicely. They named her 1997 'Working Mother of the Year.'
Yet Schindewolf gives credit to DuPont. Having a supportive employer has been vital to her family's 'balance equation,' she said.
At DuPont, 'We have begun to think outside the traditional box of how work needs to be accomplished,' she adds.
'We are becoming more comfortable with alternative pathways to upper mobility.'
For Schindewolf, this means she can work 'normal' hours at the office, then connect with customers in the evenings and on weekends. It also enabled her to take three months off after the births of her children - then ease back into work, first part-time, then full-time. And it means she's not frowned upon when she parcels out vacation hours a few at a time to do things like attend daytime play groups with Emily.
Schindewolf said her tight, highly planned schedule can put her kids at a disadvantage, but 'It's my choice. ... I love my job.'
Her husband, Eric, also works for DuPont. As a sales manager for its semiconductor industry, he splits his week between business travel and work at home. He is often in charge of issues that crop up during the day and usually handles the kids' morning routine. He admits his own career could be further ahead if his wife didn't work, but he said their lifestyle was a personal decision.
This choice wasn't always possible at the $3.8 billion supplier. A dozen years ago, family-friendly policies there didn't exist. Spokesman Terry Cressy said the company had actively recruited women employees for a number of years.
'We could attract employees, but couldn't always retain them.'
He said mid-1980s studies by DuPont Automotive's parent company in Wilmington, Del., showed that corporatewide, poor retention was often related to work-family issues.
This was probably no surprise to those who work at the Troy, Mich., supplier. 'The demands are especially intense on both fronts (work and home) in the auto industry; it's very time-constrained,' said Cressy.
Cindi Johnson, corporate spokeswoman for DuPont's Work/Life program, said in the 1980s the company assumed that 'family issues' would mainly deal with child care for working moms.
Yet, Johnson said, employee surveys and focus groups proved them wrong. Family issues ran from child care to elder care - and didn't just concern women.
So 12 years ago, the company began to provide employees with what it terms Work/Life initiatives. Primary among them is flexible scheduling. Corporatewide, 41 percent of employees use some form of flexible work hours, 4 percent have taken a six-month family leave, and 6 percent do some 'telecommuting' - working from home via computer.
DuPont also sponsors Work/Life seminars, alliances with area child-care providers and a new financial adoption assistance program.
For the last nine years, the corporation has been listed among Working Mother's '100 Best Companies for Working Mothers.'
According to Schindewolf's boss, Erik Fyrwald, a 1995 employee survey found that employees who used the Work/Life programs were the most committed employees in the company. Surveys also showed that employees who have used Lifeworks resource and referral program took fewer days off and were tardy less often.
Most importantly, perhaps, DuPont found that employees who use Work/Life programs were the least likely to feel overwhelmed or burnt out - 'a big problem today,' said Fyrwald.
Although DuPont offers these family-friendly options, initiative is left to the employee. Some sched- ules, like those in manufacturing areas, may take more time and effort to orchestrate.
At the 4,000-plus employee automotive supplier, 'the natural issue is if somebody can get an arrangement (and) then somebody else has to wait,' said Cressy. 'It can't happen all at once. It is a particular challenge if you have an absolute requirement to have the shift covered.'
In those cases, said Cressy, a popular option is 'job share,' where employees team up to cover each other's shifts. But this requires compatibility, flexibility and trust - all of which can be difficult to achieve.
Schindewolf encourages fellow employees to take action.
She helped create a corporatewide network at DuPont for managerial women with children. So far, that group numbers about 50.
Schindewolf said she thinks a resource like this throughout the supplier community would be useful; perhaps, she said, it will be her next project.
Cressy noted that at DuPont Automotive today, many promising job candidates consider work/ family issues an important part of their decision to hire on.
Because of this, Schindewolf is confident about the future of family-friendly options, even in the time-challenged automotive workplace.
Within a decade, she said, those that understand the issues are going to have a competitive advantage.
Those that don't understand 'are going to have to catch up.'
Karalynn Ott is a Detroit-based special correspondent for Automotive News.