CAN YOU WORK AND STILL HAVE A
By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Can you work and still have a
Two out of five employees say, "NO!"
Part 1 - THE PROBLEM:
Two out of five employees say they are dissatisfied with the
balance they have between their work and personal lives. Here are some reasons
- Long Work Hours
According to the Employment Policy Foundation, one
out of seven American employees work more than 40 hours a week -- an average of
an additional 8 hours on the job.
- Changing Demographics
According to U.S. Census Data, in 1940 67% of
working households consisted of a married couple with a single wage earner,
usually the husband. This dropped to only 25% in 2000, and is projected to drop
to 17% by 2030. Therefore, in most households today there is no one home during
the workday to run errands and conduct routine tasks.
- More Time in the Car
Suburban sprawl has resulted in longer commuting
times. Furthermore, many of our children can no longer walk home from school or
to their after-school activities. They need to be car-pooled. Commuting and
car-pooling are both time and energy hogs.
- Deterioration of Boundaries Between
Work and Home
Voice mail, email, cell phones, lap tops, and palm
pilots have meant that the office is omnipresent. We just can't get away.
- Increased Work Pressure
Job security is now an oxymoron. Employees feel
that they must work longer hours to impress their bosses and keep their jobs.
- Employer Responses Have Been
Many progressive employers have made the problem
worse by providing after-hours meals and services such as dry clearing and oil
changes. Although well intentioned, these efforts have only made it easier for
employees to work more, not fewer, hours.
Part 2 - WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO
Successfully tying pay to job performance is possible but very
difficult to accomplish. Here are a few principles that can help.
- What the Research Says
According to research studies conducted by
The Boston College Center
for Work and Family (www.bc.edu/cwf), the most effective strategy for
increasing productivity and life satisfaction is something called "daily flex
- What is Daily Flextime?
It is not the same as traditional flextime or
telecommuting. Daily flextime is a schedule that enables employees to vary
their work hours on a daily basis. This is different from traditional flex time
in which there is a certain set of core hours and the employee can vary only
their start and end times.
- Why is Daily Flextime Effective?
There is a psychological concept called
"perception of control," that I believe plays a large role in the level of
anxiety of employees. Psychological studies have shown that anxiety is greatly
reduced if we perceive that we have control of our situation. Surprisingly,
this is true even if we don't actually use the control.
For example, in WWII post-traumatic anxiety was found to be
highest among bomber crews, less among bomber pilots, and least among fighter
pilots. Bomber pilots had more control than their crews, but bombers were
restricted to flying in a level formation. Even though fighter pilots had more
flexibility to engage in evasive maneuvers, their actual casualty rate was the
highest of the three groups. Thus it was the "perceived control" -- not the
actual control -- that determined their level of anxiety.
Providing employees with daily flextime enables them to feel in
more control of their time and their space. This not only reduces their general
anxiety, but also provides them with the opportunity to achieve better balance
by attending special family events, visiting a doctor during the day, or even
going home to take a nap.
I am very much
interested in your views on this topic.
Please reply with your comments and
suggestions to .
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