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Career satisfaction, family values find a balance point in Holdrege
Just because you live in a small town on a broad, quiet street where the neighbors all know each other and your kids can walk to school doesn’t mean you can’t also handle global responsibilities for one of the world’s leading research and consulting companies.
Take the case of ’Chelle Ham.
‘Chelle lives in Holdrege, a town of about 5,000 in south central Nebraska, with her husband Jeremy and her three children but she works all over the world.
As a Talent Management Consultant for the Gallup Corporation, ‘Chelle helps organizations maximize employee productivity through measurement tools and strategic advisory services. From her home office she consults with managers and potential employees of companies in Canada, Australia, Japan, India, and China, as well as the United States. ‘Chelle interviews prospective employees using talent assessments designed by Gallup, and consults on selection of employees to help managers find the best fit. She also provides developmental coaching for leaders, managers and front line employees.
“Because Gallup is a global company, Gallup employees are on the job seven days a week, 365 days a year. They offer tremendous flexibility for employees.” She noted that Gallup employees can work from almost anywhere; the company’s technical support staff provides the technology to support a variety of work arrangements.
‘Best fit’ for employees
Gallup is among the nation’s top companies for finding the best fit in the company for their employees’ talents and skill sets.
“Gallup encourages us to open our minds and think about careers differently,” ‘Chelle says. “Gallup’s research tells us that when an employee is promoted from a job in which she performs excellently to one in which she may be an average performer, the company loses, and the employee is less satisfied with her career. Rather than embracing the traditional model of lateral promotion, Gallup supports employees to advance horizontally as well by enhancing their expertise, knowledge and their network. “
‘Chelle grew up in Omaha, and says she likes the urban lifestyle except for the daily two- hour commute.
“I never considered moving to rural Nebraska but when the opportunity presented itself for my husband to make a career move I was open to it.”
Jeremy had learned of an opportunity to teach in his home town and raise their children in a smaller community. A Gallup core value is providing flexibility for employees, and when ‘Chelle made her request to telecommute from Holdrege, her manager at Gallup told her, “You do good work. You are dependable.
We can make it happen.”
Work and family
“Working from a home office allows me to work like a crazy woman and also focus on my family,” ‘Chelle said. “I enjoy my work, and with my family at their current stage it is the best fit for me to work from home.”
Since ‘Chelle’s consulting job has a worldwide client base, she can work evening and late night hours in order to communicate with people during their regular work hours in Australia, Japan or New Zealand. She says, “I work 45-50 hours a week and often during late evenings and weekends.”
“Employees who achieve balance in their lives feel healthy and are happier,” ‘Chelle said. “Their sense of balance and wellness maximizes the quality of their work. I work from home, and I balance a long day in my office with time to see my kids. Because my work hours are flexible, I can slow down and arrange time for my children’s activities and school responsibilities. During my work time, I feel more focused and efficient, my personal strengths are maximized, and the quality of my work peaks even higher.”
Advantages and disadvantages
The arrangement has pluses and minuses, of course.
“I thrive on personal connections and working from my home is both a blessing and a curse for me because I am extremely social,” she said. “I like meeting people. I enjoy face-to-face interaction. Many of my close friends work at Gallup in Omaha, and I miss our daily conversations. “
On the other hand, she says she enjoys the freedom her schedule affords and knowing both her husband and children are happy in their work and school.
“I grew up in Omaha. In urban communities, the perception is that bigger means better and small towns offer fewer choices. My experience has been that quality choices are available in rural Nebraska, and our children feel important here because their health care providers, their teachers, and neighbors know their names and speak to them in the stores and on the street.”
‘Chelle’s advice to others seeking to find balance in their lives by telecommuting to their jobs: you never get what you want unless you ask for it.