Posts Tagged ‘work/life balance’

Resentment Keeps Family-Leave Policies Unused

Note: This story was originally published by the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch on August 9, 2013.tired-worker-11113002

In the Silicon Valley where I work, and across America, employers have created policies to be more responsive to employee needs for balance between work and personal life. For instance, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo! offer paid leave for new parents, and often throw in a nice “baby cash bonus.”

But my research shows that many employees might not take advantage of such perks.

Unfortunately, peer resentment often intrudes on an employee’s willingness to make use of work/family policies.

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Job Stress is Associated with Other Non-Work Factors

No Copyright IndicatedIn a recent study published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Canadian researchers have discovered that there are certain associations with job stress that may have been disregarded by prior researchers. In their study of 2,237 working adults, they found the following four main things:

  • Chronic exposure to high work stress can transform into burnout, mental disorders, and disability.
  • Workers with disrupted marriages and managers/professionals are more likely to identify their job as being associated with high stress.
  • Workers describe their jobs as being highly stressful, when they perceive that their actions have an effect on co-workers, the environment, and their company.
  • There are differential findings for calling jobs very stressful, depending on age, education, and marital status.

(list adapted from Page 37 of their study)

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Workplace flexibility and scheduling…will it work?

Not too long ago, I found this article written by Joan Williams for the Huffington Post. I typically enjoy reading Williams’ columns, as she does a nice job of integrating legal issues (she is a distinguished professor law at the University of California) into discussions on gender, work/life conflict, and organizational support. In this article, Williams argues that there are four steps to workplace flexibility and smart scheduling. They are:

1. Create a dependeable schedule.
2. Set up a formal system for handling schedule changes.
3. Address the issue of overtime
4. Offer hourly workers short periods of time off work.

These suggestions come from a discussion Williams had with the president of a labor union who represents grocery and drug store employees in California. The main point here is that employees need scheduling stability in order to seek work/life balance.

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When workers are supported, they work harder!

Most people, after reading the title of this post, may say “well…of course they do.” However, given the fact that so many American workers are unsatisfied with their work, it’s a wonder why so many organizational decision-makers focus on either monetary or punishment tactics to motivate their workforce. All the while, these same decision-makers fail to consider the impact of their organization’s culture on employee productivity.

First, let me start off by saying the following very important thing: (a) organizational culture is entirely communicative and (b) organizational culture is regularly changing (there are multiple sources to support those two assertions). Therefore, with those two things in mind, the culture of an organization can be changed with the implementation of proper communicative elements among the members of the organization. In this sense, one way to improve an organization is to improve the way that social support is communicated (see my dissertation for a very long and boring explanation on this topic).

I was excited when I saw the a post at UPI.com, which reported the findings of a research study on this very topic. Here is the article in its entirety (note that this is a direct quote):

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Working Women Still Working toward Independence

RosieOn our nation’s birth date, I thought it would be appropriate to post a brief story about my thoughts on our nation’s history, especially our working history. This idea was predicated on an article that I read this morning in the Arizona Republic on how our economy “stacks up” to other countries. While I am sure that the author of the story cites appropriate and accurate statistics, I do want to take him to task on one important issue. He says the following:

“Average U.S. household income of $37,690 (in 2008) was well above the OECD average of $22,284. Two-thirds of teens and adults here have a job, including 73 percent of mothers – a sign of positive work/life balance for women.”

While I am happy to see that earnings are higher-than-projected in 2008, I am quite concerned that the author of this article equates work with positive work/life balance. I am not entirely certain what the author of this article is speaking to, but I can assume that there is a specific reason why he uses this language.

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