Work-life news for the week ending October 3, 2009

In the News

Working Better project: An equal future (The Guardian – UK)

All of us – mothers and fathers, carers and older people – need to balance our working lives with our other responsibilities. Even young people are aware of these considerations: in a 2008 survey of Oxbridge graduates, a majority in every sector said they would prioritise work-life balance when thinking about their career.  The challenge for government and for employers is to take advantage of these changes by showing a real commitment to flexible working.  Only then will we be able to capitalise on the full diversity of talent available to us in 21st-century Britain.

Australia grants $1.69 million to help small business be more family friendly (The Gov Monitor)

Research shows that family-friendly workplaces are more productive, harmonious, have less staff turnover and attract the most talented staff.  However, a survey published recently by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that in 80 per cent of Australian working families, at least one parent said they struggled to achieve a work-life balance.

MEI Technologies an AARP ‘best employer’ (New Mexico Business Weekly)

MEI has established an Associates Program to identify and hire senior level engineers, scientists, specialists and management, many of whom are retired from NASA, the Department of Defense and academic institutions. The company matches those recruits with positions and clients, who will especially benefit from their high levels of expertise.  “In realizing that the work-life balance, benefits and workload issues for these valuable experts differs from that of entry-level employees, MEI established the Associates Program,” Muñiz said. “We are honored that our work to improve the quality of life for professionals over 50 has received this prestigious recognition.”

Flexible working: employees could turn extra hours into paid leave (The Guardian – UK)

Labour is to extend its work-life balance agenda by giving workers the right to accumulate paid leave lasting as long as a year. The proposal is contained in the party’s pre-election manifesto, The Choice for Britain, released today.

The Mommy Option: 1 in 4 Moms Stay-at-Home (Mother Jones)

Yesterday, the Census Bureau released its new report on stay-at-home moms, one that’s now being hailed as proving the myth of the “opt-out revolution.” The opt-out theory goes like this: high wage earning, highly educated women land promising and high paying jobs, only to leave them once they have babies. The trend has been debated, and now, if you believe The Washington Post, has been debunked.  This is seen as either a good thing, read: women are able to balance work and motherhood and carry on doing both without having to make tough choices to leave or give up parenting. Work/life balance problem solved, strong feminists can have their job, and baby too. Or, the report’s results are actually much more complicated than that and mean that women who want to choose to stay home can’t now for a host of reasons, that those who do have little choice in the matter (many of whom are also feminists, and all of whom are feminine), that more women are actually just losing their jobs, and that the data doesn’t capture the true state of stay-at-home motherhood.

Is the U.S. a family-friendly nation? (Seattle PI)

Almost three-quarters of American women with kids under 18 work – that’s some 25 million moms! For the sake of the families that depend on them financially and emotionally, it should be a given that our workplaces have policies that support women in being productive workers and great mothers: flexible work options, affordable child care, and paid maternity leave and sick days. The grim truth is that the average worker puts in nearly 2,000 hours per year, which is up more than 36 hours – almost a whole workweek! – since 1990. Employers and the government have the power to create and support policies that will allow us to be the best workers and the best parents. Change is coming – in some places more quickly than others. Here, the legislation, companies, and people dedicated to improving our days, plus a look at how far we still have to go, and how to get there together.

Why Half of Idahoans May Not Follow Flu Advice (Public News Service)

“If they don’t have any vacation time, or anything like that to use, then they should go without pay? Who can do that? It’s not doable for most people.”  Wade’s group has been pushing for paid-leave policies to help Idaho families find work-life balance. Many small businesses are traditionally against such policies because of financial concerns.  Idaho State AFL-CIO president Dave Whaley says employers may want to revisit their ‘paid time-off for sickness policies’ to protect their bottom lines as flu spreads.  “It’s a benefit to not only the employee, but the employer, to be able to continue to operate without having a major swine flu outbreak in their employment.”  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises staying home until flu-related fever has naturally subsided for 24 hours, which can be between seven and 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Author: ‘Remarkable’ women leaders have balance (Cincinnati.com)

According to a new book, the key difference may be that women at the top all have one thing in common: They have found ways to be happy in their professional and personal life, which seems to give them that extra something needed to succeed.

Nowhere to Go But Home Alone (Washington Post)

Lynne Casper, a sociology professor at the University of Southern California who studies the phenomenon of latchkey kids, remembers attending a congressional briefing on workplace issues.  “We were talking about the need for society to start addressing workplace flexibility and work and family balance, and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton said: ‘We’ve been talking about this for 20 years. Why doesn’t it ever get any better?’ ” Casper recalled. “Most of the structure of our workplace in this country has been in place since the Fair Labor Standards Act of the 1930s. But we’ve shifted from single-earner to dual-earner families. We’ve shifted from a manufacturing to a 24/7 service economy. As we’ve shifted, the things that were set up no longer work.”

True HR Cannot Be Outsourced (South Carolina News)

Panelist Scott Cave, KFR Services Inc. discussed the challenge of creating workplace flexibility. By offering flexible work schedules, telecommuting opportunities and child care support, Cave acknowledged how these practices helped cut costs and produce zero percent turnover with his company.

Work-life balance is key (Medicine Hat News)

Results of a recent survey conducted with close to 1,000 employees in Alberta show that 91 per cent said having a good work-life balance rated as a four or five to them. However, only 44 per cent said they currently have a good balance between their work and other aspects of their lives. Thirty-eight per cent of employees surveyed said they had voluntarily decreased the number of hours they work in an effort to improve their work-life balance.

The In-Flight Menace: Wireless Chatter (New York Times)

Series of articles on technology and work-life balance

Doing Right By Customers (Multichannel News)

Cox’s management believes that happy employees mean satisfied customers. The company has long been an advocate of work/life balance and career planning as a way of promoting and supporting its staffers. Cox was one of the first companies in the industry to provide on-site day care for CSRs and it’s an active proponent of telecommuting. About 17% of the company’s Spanish-language care staff in Arizona works from home, according to Herrera.  “Our department has grown quite a bit in recent years and finding desks and office space is always hard,” he said. “The ability to have some care agents work from home has alleviated that to a degree. It’s also good for the environment and provides a good work/life balance.”

Top Small Workplaces 2009 (Wall Street Journal)

But other companies view things differently. For them, a commitment to employees’ well-being and development in times like these can pay off handsomely—both now and in the future. Companies with low turnover and high employee satisfaction and engagement are better positioned to save money and devise innovative ways to navigate the crisis. And they set up the company to do even better when the economy turns around.  For the third year in a row, The Wall Street Journal teamed up with Winning Workplaces, an Evanston, Ill., nonprofit that helps small and midsize companies create better work environments, to identify 15 small employers who have built some of the most exemplary, innovative workplaces.

The Balancing Act of 2009 might unbalance budgets (Zanesville Times Recorder)

Health care reform has the center stage, but the impact of the balancing act of 2009 shouldn’t be overlooked. Introduced in June by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, of California, the bill proposes to consolidate various workplace flexibility bills into one major piece of legislation that collectively will pose major implications for employers, both large and small.

More Shop Talk at the Inc. 500 (New York Times)

This convention is a study in contradictions…About the only common denominator I can think of is that everyone here wants something better. Some want better income, some more work-life balance, some to be better bosses, some to better serve their customers, and some more satisfaction in what they do.

In the Blogs

Work-Life Extravanaganza (Work. Life. Balance)

Thought provoking article with author’s take on a very busy week in work-life balance and women’s issues

Employees want gossip breaks and dating service at work (Employee Benefits)

In addition the report illustrated that freedom and personalised hours are the key to workplace happiness with over 40% of all workers citing flexible and summer working hours as the most desirable benefits – ahead of financial bonuses.  Helen Whitton, deputy chair of the Work Life Balance Trust, said: “Workers are demanding more perks to keep them motivated – especially given the economic challenges of the last couple of years. The research shows it’s not always about money but about achieving a better work life balance with the call for more flexible working hours across British businesses stronger than ever.

What Your Firm’s Future Leaders Want-Believe It or Not (Leagle)

Flexibility is key – but so is hard work. What Ryan likes to term life-work balance (instead of work-life balance) is most important to young staff, and the three staff CPAs on the panel are no exception.  However, owners will be very pleased to learn of the strong sense of responsibility these staff have for making sure they do their jobs well and their appreciation for flexible opportunities at their firms. These three are as far away as you can get from the Millennial stereotypes of demanded freedoms and little responsibility.

The Balance of Parenthood (Cribsheet)

I was driving home this morning  from “Parents Day at Preschool” thinking about how  fortunate I was to have a work situation where I could take the morning off to be Ben’s special guest in class.

100 All-Time Best Ways to Hack Your Workday (Career Overview)

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of alarm clocks, commutes, meetings, office politics and dead-end jobs, but life doesn’t have to be that way all. Here, we’ve revealed 100 of the all-time best lifehacks for your workday, which will keep you motivated, productive and energized each week.

Workplace Flexibility Means One Thing in the Private Sector, Another in Academia (Foundation)

While there were many similarities between the private sector and academia, there was one striking difference. Workplace flexibility in private industry still focuses primarily on scheduling flexibility (e.g., flex time, compressed workweeks, job sharing, part-time work or teleworking). By contrast, higher education institutions are working hard to provide career flexibility and the need to offer:

Smart Working: Avoid Burnout and Get Your Work-Life Balance Back (Network Solutions)

However, as a business owner, the business is always calling for something – one more email, working on Sunday afternoon to do the books, write this proposal, etc. Since you are where the buck stops you are usually the one that has to do the task. Often, new entrepreneurs feel the pressure to do everything and do it now. The lines of when you are working, especially if your office is located at home is trying and you must have the discipline to separate them. If you don’t do this, there is one end result…Burnout.

Work Limits May Boost Productivity (IT Business Edge)

We talk a lot about finding the right work-life balance, but hardly anyone seems to be doing it.  The recession hasn’t helped, since layoffs ratchet up anxiety about keeping a job, no matter how stressful. Earlier this year, I wrote about a CareerBuilder survey that found 35 percent of peopledidn’t plan to take a vacation this year, with 20 percent of them citing anxiety as the reason.  Maybe it’s time to rethink the whole “work more to get ahead” or, in the case of the current economy “work more to stay employed” ethos. A new Harvard Business School study found thatmaking workaholics take some time off improved their performance.

 

Remote Control (AM Law Daily)

What does this mean for law firms? It is time to eliminate “face time” as the measurement of dedication and commitment. Big corner offices with senior partners in them are status symbols of the past. (And it is costly real estate, to boot, that smart firms would be wise to give up.) Hours devoted to a commute are no longer signs of commitment, but the tipping point in attempts at work/life balance. And the new reality is this: Clients don’t care where the work gets done.  They just want it done as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.  The time is now. The message is clear. Law firms need to step out of the 1950s and into the new world where the place from which someone works does not define success or commitment.

National Work & Family Month – The New Emphasis on Fatherhood (Huffington Post)

Moreover, far from being just a “woman’s issue,” work and family issues are now “men’s” issues. According to the Families and Work Institute, more men (59%) than women (45%) in dual-income households report serious work and family conflicts. More men than women struggle with work family balance. That is a significant shift and one that I’m not sure most Americans would guess.

BigLaw: Above the Law Editor Elie Mystal on the Future of the AmLaw 200 (Techno Lawyer Blog)

The balance of power has shifted and firm managers know it. Now is not the time when associates should complain of cancelled vacations or lack of quality time with the kids. Will the “lifestyle” concept return? Absolutely. Once the economy turns, associates will wonder how reasonable it is to bill 3,200 hours a year and remain a functioning member of society. Right now, “lifestyle” means “having a job.” Jones Day touts that the fact that they haven’t had layoffs — that’s their definition of lifestyle. When people don’t expect to be fired on a daily basis, we’ll get back to some of these other lifestyle concerns.

The better our workplace, the healthier we are.  That’s not just a theory, it’s a fact, part of a massive study conducted by the Families and Work Institute and released Tuesday…

To find out more, I asked CAS Careers Coach, Paresh Damani, a few questions about life, the Universe and everything else career related….”I think people would like more of a work life balance now. With the credit crunch and high flying banking and financial services jobs taking a hit, people are realising there is more to life than making money.”

Since I joined Percona, my work/life balance has changed. I used to work eight-hour days and go home, period. Now I find it’s sometimes difficult to keep good boundaries between work and the rest of my life. I also found that 8 hours in my new job left me much more tired than 8 in my old job. I’ve had to really work hard to understand what changed and how to keep this more in balance, and I’ve gotten help from a number of other people. In the end, a deep examination of my habits was necessary. After all that work, I thought it might be helpful to share the results with others.

And in the left corner we have the working mum… and in the right corner the stay at home mum. Let the fight begin! (Mums Path)

I’ve done pretty much every combination of the mum and work thing over the years – working, not working, childminders, day nurseries and self employed work at home mum (WAHM).  I guess that’s why I find it futile to take sides on the ever popular debate. Because each of them have their pressures, stresses, loves and hates in different ways and in different combinations.

Interviews with Generation Y: Mary Jane Kelly (SarahDaviesrss)

Flexibility and work-life balance are very important to young people, especially those who have family and volunteer commitments. Creative work arrangements appeal to bright, involved employees who have a lot going on outside of work, and there are some great models of how value increases when employees have more freedom and input about their work environment. For most tech jobs, flextime and working from home are easy to arrange with the right tech solution. It’s different for each organization, of course, but I think that in a lot of cases, especially for highly skilled, self-motivated employee bases, the added performance, decreased overturn, and increased project morale gained by keeping employees happy would probably more than offset the overhead.

Events

Marquette alumnae business leaders to discuss work-life balance

Four Marquette University alumnae business leaders will lead a luncheon panel titled “The CEO of Everything: Marquette Women Balancing Careers and Families” Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 11:30 a.m. in the third-floor ballroom of the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Press Releases

Generation Y Speaks Up to Reject Entitlement Label

“The survey results suggest this generation aspires to a very different work environment and reward system from their parents’ generation,” said Jodi Shanoff, Vice President, Angus Reid Strategies. “These young people have a strong sense of self and boundaries. They expect recognition and reward based on their contribution and they place great importance on achieving a work-life balance.”  While more than half expect competitive pay and benefits from their employment, money is not the top immediate or long-term goal for many of these young people. Forty-three per cent want a job to advance their career now and 61 per cent identify work-life balance as their long-term career goal, followed by meaningful and challenging work (57%) and job security (43%).

Career Life Connection News and Events

Career Life Connection will be exhibiting at the Massachusetts Conference for Women on December 10, 2009 at the Boston Convention and Exhibit Center:  Come on by and talk work/life balance/flexibility/fit at the annual conference where women can connect, be motivated, network, get inspired and build their skill base.  Last year the event brought together more than 5,000 women for the day.

ERE Interviews:  Career Life Connection (JobRadio.fm)

Last week we stalked some of the job search vendors at the ERE Fall Expo in Hollywood Florida. This is the first of several interesting interviews from the expo floor. Meet Leanne Chase from Career Life Connection, an online community all about finding flexible work.

The Final Wrap – ERE Expo (Human Race Horses)

There was a large social media presence at the event with plenty of live blogging and tweeting going on.  You can find a summary of the tweet stream here.  Great reviews of the conference have been written by Jonathon Goodman, Leanne Chase , Sharlyn Lauby,  my amazing friend Stephanie A. Lloyd, Jason Buss,   Jason Buss,  another “Jason” – my buddy Jason Blais,  the swanky and eloquent  Jennifer McClure, and the always scintilating Laurie Ruettimann

#FF tweet

ERE Expo Fall ‘09: The next killer recruiting app (HR Marketer Blog)

Career Life Connection had the most innovative booth – stocked with four inflatable chairs that provided a welcome break from standing, a surprising degree of comfort, and a great place to start a conversation

Conference Recap: 2009 ERE Expo (HR Bartender)

I really enjoyed spending time at the Career Life Connection booth.  Career Life Connection was not only an exhibitor but one of the conference sponsors.

Leanne Chase, president of Career Life Connection, shared with me a special offer for ERE Expo attendees and said that I could share it with you.  Just fill out their employer form and get a 3-month board listing.  Be sure to check it out along with their blog.  Lots of great info about workplace flexibility and balance.

Sunday HR Shout-Out: Women of #EREExpo (PunkRock HR)

I am lucky to connect with great women in my life. I spent some time with Leanne Chase who is always interested in talking politics, gender issues, and work/life balance.

Career Life Connection from ERE Expo in Fort Lauderdale

The first leg of my travels for the next two weeks brings me to the ERE Expo courtesy of Leanne Chase (@leanneclc) of Career Life Connection. I think I fit the description as someone with a flexible job and that’s what Career Life Connection is all about it. It’s a site devoted to spreading information about job flexibility and the waves of changes going through corporate america as employers everywhere are finding out people work harder when they can have flexible (NOT 9-5) schedules. Keep up with industry news and find/post jobs on the CLC Job Board.

Career Life Connection is excited to announce that IWearYourShirt.com’s September 10th show will be streamed live from their booth at the ERE Expo on Sept. 10th.  Stop by booth #205 to meet Jason Sadler and talk with him about how he achieved social media ROI success.

Career Life Connection at ERE Expo Sept. 10-11, Hollywood, Florida

Career Life Connection will be in booth #205 at the ERE Expo.  We will be talking about workplace flexibility and video taping interviews with companies and workers who flex.

Small Business Expo and Career Fair, May 21, Quincy, MA

Leanne Chase of Career Life Connection to speak on Social Networking:  Linked In, Facebook and Twitter

Career Life Connection Founder featured on Workplace Flexibility teleseminar

Flexibility Isn’t All About Mommies: Why Flex is a Cross-Generational and Gender-Neutral Issue; summary of teleseminar discussion on Workplace Flex.

Advice Isn’t Always Good For You (MSNBC)

Leanne Chase, president of Career Life Connection, was excited about attending a SCORE meeting in Boston, but didn’t end up with much help. Despite that, she plans on attending again next week.

New Nanny Math (Forbes)

Leanne Chase, 40, mother of a 3-year-old and owner of a business, Career Life Connection,

Twitters Work-Life Balance Tips (BusinessWeek.com)

It takes many villages – 1 at home to help with family life, 1 at work to fill in as needed, 1 full of friends to keep you sane #worklife

Career Life Connection on You Tube

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