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Work-Life Programs, Balancing Work and Family

Work-Life Programs, Balancing Work And Family

I spent several hours this week reviewing nomination forms for the Top Workplaces for Women in the Valley. It was refreshing to read that numerous Valley employers offer work-life programs to help workers (both men and women) minimize work-life conflict.

The programs include standard practices such as flexible work schedules, job sharing, telework, backup childcare, etc. Several programs are innovative and uncommon enough to mention, including a sick child-care service where the employer provides a nanny for the day and one where new mothers are given the opportunity to bring their babies to work until he/she is six months old. Sounds great, yes, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many employees actually take advantage of these programs?

Earlier this year, WorldatWork collaborated (with WFD Consulting) on a global survey  that revealed a growing imbalance between what employers say about work-life balance and what they actually do. We uncovered workplace trends showing employees suffer a variety of job repercussions for participating in work-life programs, even when their employers insist they support them.

“This conundrum can be so oppressive that some employees go underground, resorting to ‘stealth maneuvers’ for managing their personal responsibilities,” says Kathie Lingle, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress.

“The good news is that 80 percent of employers avow support for family-friendly workplaces,” says Lingle, a WorldatWork work-life certified professional (WLCP). “The bad news is they are simultaneously penalizing those who actively strive to integrate work with their lives.”

Employee respondents reported repercussions that included:

  • Overtly or subtly discouraged from using flexible work and other work-life programs
  • Received unfavorable job assignments
  • Received negative performance reviews
  • Received negative comments from supervisor
  • Denied a promotion

Many managers still think the ideal employee is one that is available to meet business needs regardless of business hours and don’t have a lot of personal commitments. Clearly, closing the gap between what managers believe and how they behave will make every workplace a better place to work.

I welcome comments from readers who have experienced employer support or encouragement for balancing work and family.

For more information about work-life programs or WorldatWork visit, www.worldatwork.org.