Archive for December, 2007

Most People Do NOT Want to Work Less, Just Differently

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(Check out my Fast Company Blog: Flexibility Will NOT Hurt Customer Service)

When asked in the 2007 Work+Life Fit Reality Check, “If you could make changes in your work situation, what is the most important change you would make?” People’s top choice was “make more money” at 44%. Having some type of work-life flexibility was a close second with 35% saying this would be the most important change they would make.

Let’s look at the type of flexibility these individuals want. For the 35% whose priority was flexibility, 20% want to work differently, not less (13% of them want more flexible hours, and 7% want to work remotely). Of the remaining 15% who want to reduce their schedule, most (10%) want to work between one and ten hours less. Only 5% want a reduction greater than 10 hours per week. And, this percentage was the same for men and for women (5%).

Why does it matter?

How Do 63% of Companies Without a Flex Strategy Survive?

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(Go to my Fast Company blog for “U.S. Congress Introduces Flexibility Act! But Where’s the Next Prez?”)

How would you answer the question, “Work-life flexibility in my company is a…” Here’s what the respondents to the 2007 Work+Life Fit Reality Check had to say:

Only 37% of respondents felt their organizations saw flexibility as a business strategy for retaining talent, managing the workload, and growing the business. For the rest, flexibility was either a “perk,” or it wasn’t offered.

How do the other 63% of organizations survive with flexibility that’s a “perk” or without any flexibility at all? In a 24/7, high tech, global work reality where non-linear careers are increasingly the norm, where there are clients across time zones, and where technology has eliminated the boundaries around work and the rest life (especially for younger employees) it’s increasingly hard to imagine.

Why does it matter whether flexibility is a strategy or a perk, as long as an employer supports it?

2007 Work+Life Fit Reality Check Reports on Prez Election and More

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More want to work differently than work less; only 5 percent favor reducing work schedule by more than 10 hours
• Almost 9 out of 10 believe work life flexibility would have either a positive or neutral effect on customer service
• Nearly 40 percent view work life flexibility as a growth strategy for their company, not just an employee perk
• More than half have more work life flexibility this year compared to last

December 6, 2007 – Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed in the 2007 Annual Work+Life Fit Reality Check believe the next president should introduce legislation that would make it easier for organizations to offer and individuals to have more work life flexibility. The telephone survey of a national probability sample of 900 full-time employed adults was sponsored by Work+Life Fit, Inc., conducted by Opinion Research Corporation November 1 – 5 and has a margin of error of +- 3 percent.

Cali NYTimes “Shifting Careers” Guest Blogger–Eldercare, the Inevitable Work/Life Issue

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One of the best career columnist/bloggers is Marci Alboher who writes the “Shifting Careers” daily blog and weekly column for the New York Times. Marci was a great source of support during my mother’s illness this past year, and she asked me to share what I learned to help others manage the work+life fit transition of eldercare. Here’s the blog from the Monday, December 3rd New York Times:

Eldercare, an Inevitable Work/Life Issue

By MARCI ALBOHER, New York Times “Shifting Careers” Blog

If there is one issue that most of us will face, it is likely to be the need or desire to spend time with an aging relative or close friend. I have a 93-year-old grandmother who lives a remarkably independent life. She lives in and cares for her own home, prepares her own meals and does most of her own food shopping. Until two years ago, when she gracefully agreed not to use her car anymore, she also drove. What she wants and needs most is company, and she never fails to recognize how busy all of us “young people” around her are even as my mother, my two cousins and I do our best to visit each week. We are the lucky ones. My grandmother is relatively healthy and autonomous, and we are able to enjoy the time we spend with her. I also have a flexible working life, so if I visit her on a Tuesday, I can work on a Saturday to make up for it.

But what about the millions of workers whose working lives afford far less flexibility? According to the 2004 Caregiving in the U.S study, conducted by the National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP and the MetLife Foundation, there were an estimated “44 million caregivers age 18 and older in the U.S. (21 percent of the population) caring for another adult,” a number that will only increase as the population ages.

Volumes have been written about balancing work with caring for young children. In fact, many journalists writing about the workplace are finding daily fodder on that issue alone. But eldercare is an issue that will catch up with most workers. And both workers and employers need to be prepared.

Cali Williams Yost, an author and consultant on workplace flexibility, is one of the most sophisticated thinkers on what she calls “work+life fit,” and this summer, after her mother died, she wrote an especially moving and eye-opening blog post about her own experience. That post starkly outlined the reasons that eldercare is so much more complex and challenging than childcare, especially the fact that eldercare can be sad and only get worse whereas childcare is filled with hope and gets easier as time goes on.