Symbolism is important for driving cultural change. Within this presidential campaign, there have been many powerful symbolic conversations and actions related to work+life fit. For the first time:
- The male and female candidates on both Obama and McCain tickets and their spouses talk about how they manage their unique work+life fit choices and challenges; and
- Both campaigns list work+life front and center as part of their economic agendas.
The question then becomes how do the McCain and Obama administrations plan to translate that shift in awareness into action that impacts the reality of individuals?
Ellen Galinsky of Families and Work Institute recently hosted two unprecedented conference calls in which representatives from both campaigns outlined the specifics of their philosophy, policies and programs related to a broad range of work+life issues. Detailed transcripts and commentary on these calls is available at www.familiesandwork.org.
Having listened to both calls and read the transcripts (which I urge you to do), two very different approaches emerge in a number of areas. To provide a context in which to compare the two strategies, here is an overview of the trends in work and life presented by Brad Harrington, the Executive Director of the Center for Work and Family at Boston College in a recent presentation at Cornell University:
• Aging workforce and generational diversity
• Challenges of working in a more diverse workplace (e.g gender, race, ethnicity, religion)
• Increasing workload, stress and dramatic increase in health care costs
• Globalization, working across cultures, and the 24×7 workplace
• Pervasive use of technology and working virtually
• Growing importance of work-life.
I would add:
- Increasing pressure on businesses to cut costs and work smarter/better, and additional financial uncertainty and work-related pressures for individuals.
- Ever-increasing pace of change that requires organizations and individuals to adapt and respond by being even more flexible in the way work is done, life outside of work is managed, and business is run in order to thrive.
In the context of this work+life reality, my thoughts on the Obama and McCain work+life strategies are as follows: (click here to read more at Fast Company)