The Roundup will be brought to you in July and August by the new Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN), an international membership organization for interdisciplinary work and family academics. The WFRN welcomes the participation of policy makers and practitioners as it seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of work and family issues among the community of global stakeholders. The Roundup is a compilation of the latest news articles, reports and other materials related to workplace flexibility delivered to your inbox on Monday and Thursday. In the fall, the WFRN will launch its new website which will include a News Feed among other features. We hope that you will get involved as a member and by posting the latest news. Questions?

December 17, 2010


Gallup Finds Unemployment at 9.3% in Mid-December

Dennis Jacobe • Gallup • December 17, 2010

“The increase in Gallup’s U.S. unemployment rate and the substantial worsening in the percentage of part-time workers wanting full-time work combined to send underemployment surging to 18.5% in mid-December from 17.2% at the end of November. Underemployment now matches the levels seen in September and mid-October.”

Snow day an avalanche for working parents

Petula Dvorak • Washington Post • December 17, 2010

“Welcome to a season more frightening for working parents than the summer camp scramble, more daunting than the recital relay. It’s snow time!”

Why Women’s Leadership Initiatives Fail

Joan C. Williams • Forbes • December 16, 2010

“Start with a simple question: Are most all your ‘top brass’ men married to homemakers and women without children? If so, an unstated requirement for leadership is that candidates have a specific family form: breadwinners married to homemakers.  Until this changes, a proportionate number of women will never reach the C-suite—no matter what firms do. Requiring leaders to play the old-fashioned breadwinner role guarantees not only a vanishingly small percentage of women, it also ensures that the leadership will consist of people chosen based on their ability to work a certain schedule, rather than on raw talent.”

American workforce growing grayer

Dennis Cauchon • USA Today • December 15, 2010

“The number of people 55 and older holding jobs is on track to hit a record 28 million in 2010 while young people increasingly are squeezed out of the labor market, a USA TODAY analysis finds.  The portion of people ages 16-24 in the labor market is at the lowest level since the government began keeping track in 1948, falling from 66% in 2000 to 55% this year. There are 17 million in that age group who are employed, the fewest since 1971 when the population was much smaller.  By contrast, people in their 50s, 60s or 70s are staying employed longer than at any time on record.”

Investment Bankers for Hire, Temporarily

Liz Moyer and Kyle Stock • Wall Street Journal • December 14, 2010

“Young investment bankers striving for recognition face a binary professional choice: work 80-hour weeks chained to a computer, or don’t work at all. [. . .] Amid the ruins of massive institutions, surviving banks grew more creative in saving money and staffing deals, opening the door to flexible work arrangements and a streak of entrepreneurial activity.”

How do sudden large losses in wealth affect labor force participation?

Eric French and David Benson • Chicago Fed Letter •

“Consider a worker near retirement age.  If the value of her stocks or home unexpectedly falls by a significant amount, this reduced wealth might be equivalent to years of income from wages.  It is reasonable, then, that such a worker might leave the work force later than she had planned in order to replace that lost wealth […] On the surface, labor force participation statistics for older individuals seem consistent with anecdotes about delayed retirements.  Labor force participation for most age groups has been falling, whereas it has been rising for those aged 55-64 in the wake of the stock and housing market busts.”


Five Questions with … Dina Bakst of A Better Balance

Daniel Schwartz • Connecticut Employment Law Blog • December 16, 2010

“Yes, the recession has prompted some employers to implement flexible work arrangements as a method to save money and avoid layoffs. There is also a growing recognition that workplace flexibility is not just a perk for women, but an issue that affects everyone.  At the same time, many workers are still reluctant to take advantage of their company’s flexible work policies, worried they’ll be penalized for doing so. In addition, through our Families at Work legal clinic, we are seeing an increasing number of low-income workers penalized for their caregiving responsibilities.”

Where Is the Best Place to Work?

Verne G. Kopytoff • New York Times - Bits • December 15, 2010

“Workers at the social networking colossus – or at least people who claimed to be – gave it the highest rating, 4.6 out of 5, based on eight criteria including work/life balance, recognition and, of course, compensation and benefits. Southwest Airlines was second on Glassdoor’s annual Top 50 Best Places to Work list, followed by Bain & Company, the management consulting firm.”

Focus on Workplace Flexibility – The Rise of Older Workers and Caregivers

Carrie Clark • Corporate Voices for Working Families Blog • December 14, 2010

“Working in the work-life field, even in a part-time capacity, the one undeniable fact you’re faced with is this: Demographic changes mean everything. The changes that are revolutionizing the way work is done can be traced back to the simple fact that the workforce of today does not look anything like the workforce of decades past.”

How Trivial Decisions Will Impact Your Happiness

Ron Ashkenas • Harvard Business Review Blogs - Ron Ashkenas • December 13, 2010

“A number of years ago I did my doctoral research on the balance between professional achievement and successful family life, using academic physicians as my study group. Not surprisingly, the most successful medical professors in my sample group … also tended to have the most instances of divorce and estrangement from children. Naturally, none of these highly successful people had consciously chosen to sacrifice their families in order to advance their careers. Instead, they had made hundreds of small tradeoffs over the years … It was the accumulation of these small choices that seemed to gradually tip their lives one way or the other.”

The Declining Demand for Men

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • December 13, 2010

“The Great Recession has sometimes been dubbed the Mancession because it drove unemployment among men higher than unemployment among women. Because men tend to work in more cyclical industries than women, they have historically lost more jobs on the downturn and gained more on the upturn.  The current upturn, however, is doing little to restore jobs, with November unemployment rates at 10.6 percent for men and 8.9 percent for women.  A long-term trend also lurks behind the cyclical pattern — a decline in the demand for the kinds of jobs that men typically fill.”

Managing Remote Teams: The Art of the Virtual Cup of Coffee

Jim Magary • Sloan Work and Family Blog • December 13, 2010

“The work-at-home trend continues to grow, as more companies allow the practice, and elected officials actively encourage it.  Given the choice, many people, particularly knowledge workers whose workday is increasingly consumed by electronic communication, would happily forego their daily commute and interact with co-workers or clients from a ‘virtual’ work environment.”

Telecommuters are Happier Workers

Sue Shellenbarger • Wall Street Journal • December 12, 2010

“A new study on telecommuting confirms what many employees already know: The office can be a bad place to work.  I have long felt that telecommuting has made me more productive, and a new study documents some of the reasons why. People who work from home at least three days a week are more satisfied with their jobs because they have less work-life conflict, less stress, less time pressure and fewer interruptions, says the study in the latest issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research.”

Envisioning Work+Life Flexibility in 2020

Cali Williams Yost • Fast Company - Expert Blog • December 10, 2010

“But I was struck most by a remark made at the beginning of the conference by Kathleen Christensen, program director from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation who oversaw Workplace Flexibility 2010. She said, ‘This event isn’t the end, but the beginning of an ongoing conversation.’  With that call to action in mind, I spent most of the meeting thinking about the future, and imaging what a similar gathering might look like in 2020.”

Global News

At last, jobs for the girls

Anne Summers • Sydney Morning Herald, Australia • December 18, 2010

“The Australian Securities Exchange’s gender diversity reporting requirements, which will see all listed companies having to disclose their diversity policies and list the women in management and on their boards from next year, is another example of corporate leadership. The ASX is effectively putting more pressure on companies to promote women than the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency has ever managed to do.”

Jobless total rises above 2.5m as public sector cull begins

Larry Elliott • Guardian, UK • December 16, 2010

“Male unemployment increased by 11,000 to 1.46 million, while the number of women out of work rose by 24,000 to 1.04 million, the highest total since 1988. There was also a rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive, including people looking after a sick relative, students and those who have given up looking for a job, up by 22,000 to 9.29 million, a rate of 23.2%.  Ministers took some comfort from a fall of 1,200 to 1,462,700 in the government’s alternative measure of unemployment, the claimant count, which measures those out of work and eligible for certain state benefits, and a 1,000 increase in the number of job vacancies to 468,000.”