Archive for April, 2008

Is the Problem Women Doctors, or the Way Doctors Work?

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(Click here to check out this week’s Fast Company post “Work+Life Flex as Retention-Retirement Strategy? Yes, Say More Retirees and Companies“)

A British medical journal, a Canadian magazine and the medical blogosphere have ignited a controversial debate around the following premise:

There are too many women doctors who want to work part-time, which is contributing to a lack of capacity in the medical system. Therefore, we should reconsider the amount of resources devoted to the education of women doctors and focus more of them on men.

This debate was the subject of a interesting post a couple of weeks ago, “Women Doctors: Waste of Money?” in BusinessWeek’s Working Parents blog. Not surprisingly it resulted in many emotional comments on both sides of the issue.

I asked a 40-something, male doctor I know to weigh in, and he brought up an another angle: “Certainly my anecdotal experience is that more women work part time and those that work full time take more time off for family reasons. But, many MEN entering medicine are not willing to work the way men did 30 years ago. And this is commonly called a “poor work ethic.”

This got me thinking. Is the problem simply about more women than men wanting to work a reduced schedule? Or is it also about doctors resisting fundamentally rethinking some of the ways they do their jobs so there is more work+life flexibility for everyone, not just women?

I recently met a doctor who had tried to innovate the way medicine was practiced in his specialty to give people more work+life flexibility and failed.

W+LFit Tips: Keeping Flex in Recession (BusinessWeek)/ Small Business (Smart Money)

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Recently I was asked to offer tips for two very different groups–working parents for BusinessWeek.com and small businessowners for SmartMoney.com.

BusinessWeek’s Working Parents Blog — How to Keep Your Job (And Flexibility!) in a Recession

For BusinessWeek’s Working Parents Blog, blogger Lauren Young asked me to provide advice to working parents about how to keep the flexibility they have during a recession. Here’s an excerpt and link:

“Today’s news that U.S. payrolls declined by 80,000 jobs in March left a sinking feeling in my stomach. BusinessWeek’s chief economist is predicting job cuts in sectors such as financial services, real estate, as well as some consumer areas like hotels and restaurants.

How can you keep your head off the chopping block? Career experts say this is the time to shine at work, but plenty of the working parents I know already have a tough time juggling the demands of their professional life with their personal life.

So that’s why I turned to Cali Williams Yost, president and founder of Work+Life Fit and author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You (Riverhead/Penguin Group, 2005). Her tips for keeping your job afloat during a recession are geared to working parents, but this advice applies to anyone who wants to stay gainfully employed: (Click here to more)”

SmartMoney.com — Small Business and Flexibility as a Competitive Advantage

For Smart Money.com, the focus was on how small business owners can use the inherent flexibility they offer to compete with larger employers for talent. At the end of the article I discuss the “floodgates fear” and the fear that the work won’t get done that partially-paralyze most managers no matter the size of the company within which they work. Here’s an excerpt and a link:

“Any arrangement, of course, has to benefit the company and its bottom line. It’s important for a small-business owner to ask for accountability when giving an employee the freedom to set their own hours or schedule. They should discuss with the employee how work will get done, how deadlines will be met and how flexibility can improve business results.

“The big fear amongst naysayers is ‘if we give it to one person, then everyone will want it, and no one will be there,'” says Cali Williams Yost, a consultant on flexibility strategies in Madison, N.J. “That almost never happens.” Another concern is that flexible scheduling can hamper productivity. However, “most people don’t want to work less,” Yost says. “They just want to work differently.” (Click here to read the entire article)

(Check my most recent Fast Company blog posting: CIOs Decide: Is Flexibility “Naïve” or a Reality That Can’t Be Ignored?)

Eldercare–One Year Later

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At Easter I realized that one year ago my sisters and I were sitting in my mother’s hospital room eating Easter dinner from the cafeteria while she recovered from surgery. It was that Easter Day operation that marked the beginning of her rapid decline and the most intense three-month period of care we needed to provide until her death in July.

About the same time I had this realization, I came across a newspaper article and a website that reinforced two of the main insights from my eldercare experience that I’d blogged about here and for the New York Times. First, is plan! The second is that eldercare is incredibly hard and you need support.

First, planning. The article entitled, “Facing aging: Families avoid crucial conversations,” was from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and talked about the “40-70 Rule.” The rule is that you need to have an honest conversation with your parents about how they want to be cared for, and what their financial situation is when you are at least 40 years old and your parent is 70 years old.

Even though I am over 40, my father and stepmother aren’t yet 70 years old. However, that has not stopped me over the past year from starting to talk with them about what they want. Knock on wood, they are both healthy. But as I know too well, that can change overnight. And when you are in crisis is not the time to have those important discussions. DON’T WAIT…Talk to your aging parents now.