NewsRoundup

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?

February 23, 2010

Articles

What do Blackberrys and iPhones mean to personal life

Enid Arbelo • Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY • February 21, 2010

“It seems simple. When you clock out or sign off, your workday is done, right? Wrong.  Digital tools like laptops and smart phones keep us wired to the workplace, but they also can wreak havoc on our social lives. Even though our work-life boundaries are a lot more permeable these days, it’s not all bad. Being constantly connected gives many of us more flexibility in the workplace because we can communicate instantly from anywhere in the world, says Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester.”

Always On: Our 24/7 connectivity tips the work/life balance (video)

Jim Shelton • New Haven Register, CT • February 21, 2010

“Today’s work/life balance has gone from a juggling act to a 24-hour Ping-Pong tournament.  It’s all work and all play, all the time. We’re filing reports and checking our work e-mail at home in the evenings, then texting our kids and forwarding YouTube links from the office the next day. Our colleagues are following us on Twitter. Our clients are making snide remarks about our Facebook page. [. . .] In other words, says Harvard University professor and psychiatrist Srini Pillay, Americans have greater work flexibility than ever before, but in exchange they’re working more hours and straining to spend quality time with their families.”

Work and family: Big bucks not needed to be family-friendly

Susan Nielsen • Oregonian • February 21, 2010

“Many companies that shine in the rankings of Oregon’s favorite employers provide a plush array of family-friendly benefits, plus occasional extras like free car repair or massage therapy.  Such generosity is hard to fathom in this economy, where not getting laid off is the new perk. Yet it’s still possible to be family-friendly, even for companies with tight budgets and lower-income workers. One key, as national and state data suggest, is to minimize unnecessary conflicts between work and home.”

Labor Issues Loom Large

Jared Shelley • Human Resource Executive Online • February 19, 2010

“With an increased emphasis on thwarting unemployment-insurance fraud and cracking down on companies that improperly classify workers as independent contractors, President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget has plenty of items that should get the attention of any HR executive. [. . .] The budget establishes a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund that will provide competitive grants to help states cover the start-up costs associated with a paid-leave initiative.”

Job relocation...to your living room

Jessica Dickler • CNNMoney.com • February 19, 2010

“Most job seekers say they’re willing to do whatever it takes to find work in this economy. But are they willing to move 3,000 miles away?  That was the question Jeanne Guerin was asking herself when she reluctantly applied to a job in another state after being unemployed for nearly a year. But instead of moving her family across the country, she convinced the company to let her telecommute from home.”

Blogs

Do Millennial Women Truly Have It All?

Tina Vasquez • Glass Hammer • February 23, 2010

“According to recent research by Accenture, young professional women ages 22-35 – otherwise known as “millennial women” – believe they will have rewarding careers in equal balance with fulfilling personal lives, despite a rough economy and corporate structures that are still lacking in their understanding of women’s dual obligations in the workplace and at home.  The Millennial Women Workplace Success Index marked the results of an online study taken by 1,000 millennial women currently employed full-time in the U.S. According to the index, 94 percent believe they will achieve a work/life balance and even more astonishing, almost half (46 percent) of the women surveyed believe their work life and personal life are in equal balance.”

Obama is Home for Dinner...What About Me?

Ronda Kaysen • momlogic.com • February 22, 2010

“Supporters hail Obama for giving voice to the turmoil of the modern dad—the father’s who’s as torn about balancing life and work as mothers have always been.  In fact, 59 percent of men experience work/life conflict, according to a survey conducted by the Families and Work Institute. That’s a significant jump from 1977, when only 35 percent of men reported feeling that way.  Critics, however, call Obama out on two fronts. One: Americans didn’t elect him to be a good dad. And two: it’s nice that the boss can break for dinner, but the underlings he’s summoned to his office can’t go home to their own kids.”

Vocation vacations -- for the skilled set

Alexandra LeTellier • Los Angeles Times - Brand X • February 22, 2010

“The last year or so has been all about the staycation—staying local or at home in the spirit of penny-pinching as we ride out the recession. But as companies continue to execute layoffs—January’s 9.7% unemployment rate was considered an improvement over the month before, which was at 10%—people who can still afford to take a vacation are trending toward a different kind of ‘time off’ by learning new skills. It’s like summer school for adults. A vocation, if you will.”

Why Workplace Flexibility Matters for the Chronically Ill

Rosalind Joffe • Sloan Work and Family Blog • February 22, 2010

“The movement calling for a more flexible workplace is getting louder. We’re hearing demands from various sources, including working mothers, a ‘sandwiched generation’ and aging boomers. The message is that a rigid, standardized work schedule makes it difficult to balance the competing needs of successful employment and a balanced, personal life.  Yet there is one group that is markedly absent from this discussion. That’s the 40% of the workforce living with a chronic illness. Most of us can easily come up with reasons why the aforementioned groups would ask for work flexibility. But few consider why this would be useful to the chronically ill and how this might improve their workforce productivity. Research shows that workers who had more control over their schedules and workdays saw improvements in both physical and mental health.”

Gender Trade-Offs

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • February 22, 2010

“Across all countries, overall inequalities in wage income influence average differences in men’s and women’s earnings. So do public policies such as child care provisions that help adults cope with trade-offs between paid and unpaid work — and, more broadly, between economic independence and family commitment.  These trade-offs remain sharply significant in the United States.”

Do flexible work conditions make healthier employees?

Tiffany O'Callaghan • Time - Wellness • February 19, 2010

“Much time and effort has been dedicated to researching the mental health benefits of flexible work environments, but can the ability to leave work early to watch your son’s soccer game, or arrive at the office a bit later in the morning in order to see to some personal errands, have broader physical health benefits beyond making you feel a bit less frazzled? According to new research published in the Cochrane Library’s Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, it seems so. In a review of 10 previous studies examining the health implications of flexible work conditions for more than 16,000 people, researchers from the U.K.‘s Durham University and University of Newcastle, as well as the University of Montreal, found that flexible work schedules—when employees can shift their starting times, for example—were associated with improvements in blood pressure, sleep and overall mental health.”

Global News

Part-time work boosts job growth

David Uren • Australian • February 24, 2010

“The labour force figures show that while Australia’s total number of jobs has increased over the past year, the number of hours worked has fallen. [. . .]  Women make up 70 per cent of the part-time workforce, but only 35 per cent of the full-time workforce. The study shows that 10.6 per cent of women in the workforce would like to be working more hours, compared with just 1.4 per cent of men.”

Men must close the gender gap

Stephanie Peatling • Sydney Morning Herald, Australia • February 21, 2010

“Men would be given the same rights to family-friendly work arrangements as women under changes to discrimination laws being drawn up by the federal government.  Women’s equality in the workplace has stalled, the government believes, because anti-discrimination laws and equal opportunity laws have perversely prevented men from taking on greater responsibilities at home.”