Is your income never enough? Can’t wait for payday? You are not alone! Indian inflation, especially food inflation, has been high for quite some time. The cost of living has also gone up over the years such that it makes a lot of sense to run things on dual incomes.
There are more working couples today than ever before. Although traditional male-female roles among couples are blurring quicker than ever, especially in urban India, the role of taking care of the house and family is still heavily skewed towards women.
Now, balancing both work and home is no easy task. Things don’t stop there. Even when you have double the income to look after the family, a number of women face several hurdles as they go along. This includes maternity breaks and breaks to take care of elders in the family. Given this scenario, how can you, as a power woman, boost the income of your family during tough times? Is there a way you can manage your income and still come up trumps? Read on to find out.
If you think that we are going to tell you to devote equal time to all the parts of your life, then you are totally wrong. This is impossible to do. The best way forward is to treat all parts independently and allocate the necessary time accordingly. Having a flexible career is the answer. A flexible career path will help you focus on the right parts of your life at the right time without making significant compromises, both on the family and the work front.
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So, what is a flexible career path? Is it to do with flexible jobs? Well, yes, in a way. Flexible jobs are those that offer flexible hours of work along with a flexible workload. You can choose to have flexible jobs as part of your flexible career or make your career a flexible one. How to make your career path flexible?
Ensure that your work allows you to take breaks. Put your finances in order before going for those breaks. Another important thing to do is to ensure that your income is not the primary income when you plan to take breaks. Note that most companies accept women employees back after they take breaks. You can also plan your breaks to fit into your career path.
For instance, consider Khushboo. As an HR professional, Khushboo was well-established professionally when she got married. She, along with her husband, planned to have a child in two years. So, she spoke to her firm and decided to work on a consulting basis during her maternity break. She took a break for two years and then was back to full-time work. This way, you can plan your career so that it is flexible and helps you prioritise your needs at a given point in time. By keeping your career path flexible, you can take care of both your family and your finances.
Your flexible career path can include part-time jobs, job shares where you work alongside a friend or relative, jobs with flexible work hours, work-from-home jobs, consulting assignments and any other jobs that will allow you to manage your work efficiently. So, a flexible career is where you design your own career path and take up jobs based on your needs and your family’s requirements.
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Talk with your current employer
Is it possible, at all, to do this in your current job? It may be! Today, most multinational companies, as well as many Indian companies, permit their employees to work on a flexible basis. Companies from most industries such as Information Technology (IT), Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Banking, BPO, Telecom, Hospitality and financial services, offer flexible work options. This will be easier to negotiate with the company if you have spent at least a couple of years with your current employer and have earned a certain level of credibility.
The flexible part can include splitting your work responsibility with a colleague, telecommuting and working on projects that allow flexibility. Start by talking to the head of Human Resources (HR) of your organisation. You need to find out if they will give you such options. Explore all the possible options with your HR representative. While you do this, it is imperative that you be honest about your past performance and how you have handled your work load.
In case your performance has been dismal within regular work hours, in a regular working environment, then, let’s be honest – the possibility of you getting a flexible job will be almost impossible.
Find a flexible job
If you’re in the market for a job with flexible working options, there are several jobs out there with a flexible schedule. These include data processing, product expertise, tele-calling, medical transcription and online trading, to name just a few. The scope of flexi-work increases every day.
Unable to find a flexible job or a job with flexible tasks? Don’t fret! There are several websites exclusively for women that help you find a job with just a click. FLEXI Careers India and Sheroes.in (formerly fleximoms.in) are some websites that help women find flexible jobs. These websites have a bank of jobs that offer flexible schedules and options. They also help women who have come back from a break find a job, while also providing them with the necessary mentorship or training they may need.
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Take the case of Seema who found such a job. Initially a techie, Seema had become a mother of two and couldn’t handle the long hours at her IT firm. So, she took up a job as a facilitator at an institute that educates citizens on their rights. She set up all the systems for them at her own convenient hours. She was able to set the duration and the days she wanted to work and feels happy that she never has to miss a Parents-Teachers Meeting ever again. You can follow Seema or choose a job where you can work on a contractual basis so that your workload is reduced.
Work on contract
Contractual jobs, or jobs where you work on a temporary basis, will have a much lesser workload and work hours when compared to a regular job. This is what Kanchan is doing. When Kanchan landed a job with a big software firm in Bangalore on a two-year contract, she just grabbed it. Just back from her maternity leave, she needed some more time to care for her baby, which her previous organisation was unwilling to provide. As a contractual employee, she needs to work for only 4-5 hours a day and the timings are also flexible. With her workplace pretty close to home, she is totally delighted with her job.
You can find such a job in not only IT, but also in the fields of retail, marketing, HR, Knowledge Processing Center (KPO) and media. The best part is that employees hired on a contract are eligible for all deductions like the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), which are applicable to permanent employees. Speak to your employer and ensure that these are made part of your salary structure. Temporary employees are given leeway in deciding their salary structure, especially if the company is desperately in need of such employees. Note that there is a lot of attrition in such roles and that is the reason why companies provide a number of sops to temporary employees.
Work from home
In case your family situation demands that you be at home, you can consider a work-from-home job. There are a number of jobs today that you can take on from home, such as web designing, freelance programming, content writing and editing and the most popular one, tutoring. There are a plethora of online tutoring websites that provide you an opportunity to teach students in India and abroad.
Choose your area of expertise and teach on! Note that pay for these teaching jobs could range anywhere between Rs. 100 to Rs. 5,000 per hour depending on the time spent on teaching, the subject chosen and the country in which the student resides. Obviously, teaching students abroad has its own perks. If you are the creative type, you can choose to pursue a home business. These could include jewellery designing, cooking classes, garments boutique, baking business and instant food business.
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Planning is key
Irrespective of whether you work at home or take up a flexible job, prioritise your home and office work. Allocate definite timings, especially if you are serious about going back to full-time work. Ensure that you don’t carry your work over to the next day. The best way could be to use a separate part of the house as a home-office so that you feel committed to your work.
If you can manage without income from such jobs, you could take a break and join work later. This will ensure that you remain unstressed and can give your family priority. As mentioned earlier, most employers take back women who had gone on a break. The most important point to remember is that you should refrain from taking part-time jobs for fun. The job you take up during breaks should add value to your CV. This will ensure that you get good offers when you want to return to a regular job.
Before you actually take a break, put your finances in order. Make a financial plan. If you are planning to tap into investments, account for them in your financial plan. Make sure that you have your investments in order as soon as you start working. The first option will be to take a loan against your Fixed Deposit if you need funds. These will have the lowest interest rates.
Swipe your Credit Card as minimally as possible. Breaks are a time when you can run into a debt trap. Avoid taking loans as far as possible. If you really need to, compare across banks to ensure you have the best terms and conditions. These details will help ensure that your break is indeed a blessing in disguise.