** Today’s post was initially shared on LinkedIn by Fort Lauderdale Consultant, Jillian Lunceford, who has kindly let us share her story on our blog**

While talking to several of my mentors from my university, I’ve learned that work-life balance used to not be one of the top goals that incoming employees would look for in their company. It was assumed that you would work and work, and companies weren’t nearly as understanding with your life at home. Whether that’s because it was predominately male workers who were stereotyped against being caregivers or that times have simply evolved, I couldn’t be happier about the change.

You might be wondering why. After all, if you look at my profile, you’ll see that I only graduated college last year. I’m a young, single employee – the perfect kind of person who has no strings attached to herself and can be sent anywhere. While those sentiments are technically true, I come with some extra baggage that many my age don’t. In late 2016, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia (FM).

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Jillian reading a book she published! (You should check it out!)

For those who don’t know, FM affects people physically, mentally and socially. Approximately 2-4% of Americans have it, with a ration of about 8 to 2, women over men. As symptoms can vary, I will only list a few of the ones that affect me personally: fatigue, sleep disturbances, episodic cognitive difficulties (memory problems or thinking clearly), intense widespread nerve pain, and nerve-pain induced twitching of extremities. When in an episode, both depression and anxiety can be jump-started to a severe level. This, of course, also affects me socially.

So, what does this have to do with my job? If I’m in pain and/or twitching, or if I’m having trouble thinking clearly and efficiently, driving becomes out of the question very quickly. My right leg could twitch and make me hit a pedal I don’t mean to, or I could not think quickly enough if a nearby car swerves into my lane. It’s dangerous for me and anyone on the road around me. If I can still manage to get to work during an episode, it leaves me slow on my feet and I have to take more time doing work to make sure that I don’t lose quality.

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The reason I chose my company was that during my internship with them in Summer 2017, I quickly made them aware of my condition. So soon after my diagnosis, I was still learning how to manage FM and had some difficulties keeping the episodes at bay. My company responded with being flexible with my hours (letting me come in late and make up the hours later that day or during the week) as well as where I worked (working from home so that I didn’t have to drive). The project managers that I worked under managed to balance making sure that I still produced quality work in time to meet deadlines while still making sure that I was healthy.

We live in a world filled with complex problems, and it’s important to work for a company that understands this. “Well, I’m physically and/or mentally healthy, so that can be lower in my priorities.” As much as that may be true now, think of your long-term career with your company. What about when you’re married? When your kid is sick and your significant other can’t be the one to take care of them? A death of a loved one? My company has already shown me that when those times come (and they will), they will be professional yet understanding with my situation. I have a company that lets me bring my whole self to work, illness and all.

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I am happy and as healthy as I can be with my condition, and I wouldn’t be able to say that if I didn’t work for a company with the same values as Protiviti.

So, what will they get from me? An individual who is committed to this company. Someone who wants to see their employer succeed. A worker who is willing to put in the extra time when necessary to get the company to where it’s trying to go. An employee who plans to work for them for a long time and build up both my career and the company as a whole.

It’s important to our organization to provide flexibility for our our employees and accommodate personal needs whenever possible. We’re glad that Jillian has been able to experience this first hand and we’re lucky to have such a great employee!

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