10/08/2012 11:42 am ET Updated Dec 08, 2012

You Never Know Until You Ask

Looking around your office, you'll see the faces of people with unique backgrounds and personalities. But there are at least two big things we all have in common -- we all work and we all have family and friends. National Work and Family Month is a time to reflect on how we try to balance these two priorities.

Imagine for a minute, that every person who somehow found a way to successfully manage their work and family life shared that bit of knowledge with someone else. Even it if that success was for one day, one month or throughout their career. Think about yourself and think about your colleagues.

As a company, American Express recognizes the challenges our employees face juggling work and family life and we want to help. To achieve that, we take a holistic approach to our employees' work and personal lives. We offer a variety of resources to help achieve overall positive well-being for our employees and their families, such as child or elder care and free financial counseling. We have found that when employees have the support to create a work style that best meets their personal needs, they are more engaged while working, committed to the Company and able to drive results.

In celebration of National Work and Family Month, we're encouraging our employees to share their individual stories on how they create a work life "fit" that's right for them. Ten employees will be selected to win a $500 work life "grant" to help them achieve a work life goal of their own. Some ideas include going on a day trip with their family, studying a new language or taking a healthy cooking class. Ultimately, we're hoping to help inspire others.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I felt strongly that I needed to spend more time at home. I just couldn't see how that would be possible. I had a job I loved and was sad that I'd have to leave the company. This was my first thought and I basically resigned. As I helped interview for a replacement, it dawned on me that I was the right person for the job. I voiced my desire for a more flexible schedule; my boss agreed and was thrilled she wouldn't lose me. Six years later, it's still working -- for me, my family and the company.

Everyone has a story of where work and life conflict. What if we had the confidence to start the conversation with what worked for me, rather than assume I knew what wouldn't work for the company? Imagine that.

So, think about what your employer could do to support you and tell them! And employers - ask employees what you can do to support them and then figure out how to do it wherever possible. At American Express we know a happy employee is a more productive and engaged employee, creating a win-win situation for our company, our employees and our customers.