In a word, yes! When it comes to work and family, men and women are more alike than different, according to a new research study of employees around the world. This finding conflicts with a widely held assumption that male identity is rooted in work, whereas women place a higher priority on personal and family life.
The Global Study on Men and Work-Life Integration (WorldatWork and WFD Consulting 2011) sought to understand how organizations can remove the stereotypes and barriers that prevent men from utilizing work-life offerings, as well as what prevents leaders and managers, who are often men, from supporting the use of work-life options.
Work-life programs are not as effective as they can be because managers still cling to the notion that the “ideal worker” is an employee with few personal commitments. A majority of managers still believe that the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments.
Financial stress is a top work-life issue across country and gender, and the top issue for most. Employees increasingly spend part of their on-the-job time addressing financial concerns. Employers can ease this stress by increasing employee assistance programs, offering financial counseling programs, and being as transparent as possible about the corporate financial situation and job security.
“Working men and women around the world seek the same holy grail: success in both their work and family lives,” said Kathie Lingle, WLCP, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress. “The assumption that male identity is rooted in work and not family is a major impediment to the effective integration of employees’ work and family lives.”
Added Peter Linkow, president of WFD Consulting: “Leaders must give voice to their own stories of work-life integration, warts and all. This would be a powerful step toward reducing employees’ fears that utilizing the benefits they have been given will jeopardize their careers. This is especially important in a climate where financial stress and job security are top-of-mind for workers.”