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?

June 8, 2010

Articles

Washington-Baltimore benefits survey: Part-timers getting more perks

V. Dion Haynes • Washington Post • June 8, 2010

“Employers in the Washington-Baltimore region offered part-time workers better perks this year, such as paid days off, in lieu of creating full-time positions, according to an annual survey of human resources officials to be released Tuesday.  This year, 73 percent of employers participating in the fifth annual Washington-Baltimore Metro Region Benefits Survey Report said they offered leave benefits to part-time employees, compared with 61 percent last year. Many extended medical, dental and 401(k) plans to employees who worked as few as 20 hours a week.”

Employers, take note: Stress, inflexibility may drive workers away

Diane Stafford • Kansas City Star, McClatchey Newspapers • June 8, 2010

“Reports say that lack of workplace flexibility — the ability to juggle work hours to take care of home-based needs — may now be the top reason workers look for new jobs.  This is crucial information for employers who want to hold on to good employees.  Earlier this year, for the first time since October 2008, the number of workers who quit their jobs voluntarily exceeded the number who were let go by employers in firings or downsizings.”

The End of Men

Hanna Rosin • Atlantic • June 8, 2010

“What if the modern, postindustrial economy is simply more congenial to women than to men? For a long time, evolutionary psychologists have claimed that we are all imprinted with adaptive imperatives from a distant past: men are faster and stronger and hardwired to fight for scarce resources, and that shows up now as a drive to win on Wall Street; women are programmed to find good providers and to care for their offspring, and that is manifested in more- nurturing and more-flexible behavior, ordaining them to domesticity. This kind of thinking frames our sense of the natural order. But what if men and women were fulfilling not biological imperatives but social roles, based on what was more efficient throughout a long era of human history? What if that era has now come to an end? More to the point, what if the economics of the new era are better suited to women?”

Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price

Matt Richtel • New York Times • June 6, 2010

“Scientists say juggling e-mail, phone calls and other incoming information can change how people think and behave. They say our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. [. . .] The resulting distractions can have deadly consequences, as when cellphone-wielding drivers and train engineers cause wrecks. And for millions of people like Mr. Campbell, these urges can inflict nicks and cuts on creativity and deep thought, interrupting work and family life.”

Hope of Finding Work Halved After 6 Months of Unemployment

Jenny Marlar • Gallup • June 3, 2010

“Unemployed Americans’ hopes for finding work in the next four weeks drop sharply as their length of unemployment increases, from 71% for those who have been unemployed less than a month to 36% among those unemployed for more than six months.”

Blogs

More Job Openings, but Employers Slow to Hire

Sara Murray • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • June 8, 2010

“Also boding well for the job market, the number of separations, which include workers quitting, retiring and losing their jobs, fell by 1.2% to 4 million. And for the third month in a row the number of workers quitting, 2 million, exceeded the 1.7 million who were laid off or discharged. More workers tend to quit their jobs when the employment situation is improving and they’re confident they’ll be able to find another one.”

Building An Inside-Out Life – Part 1

Douglas LaBier • Psychology Today - The New Resilience • June 8, 2010

“The Myth of Work-Life Balance [. . .] It’s no surprise that these people, like many I see in my psychotherapy practice as well as in my workplace consulting, feel pummeled by stresses in their work and home lives. Most are at least dimly aware that this is unhealthy - that stress damages the body, mind and spirit. Ten years ago, a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found that 70 percent of all illness, physical and mental, is linked to stress of some kind. And that number has probably increased over the last decade. Much of this stress comes from struggling with the pressures of work and home - and trying to ‘balance’ both. The problem seems nearly universal, whether in two-worker, single-parent or childless households.”

The Great Deprivation

Nancy Folbre • New York Times - Economix • June 7, 2010

“Backslide may describe what happened to the market economy, but it doesn’t capture what’s happening now in families hit hardest by persistent unemployment.  They are suffering not a temporary setback, but a permanent reduction in their ability to develop their own and their children’s capabilities. Put in terms that economists are fond of, their human capital is being … decapitalized.”

Discussions and Prospects for Extended Time Off Policy

David Gray • Huffington Post • June 4, 2010

“Mandated paid leave remains a key priority of labor and women’s groups.  Their hope has been that once health care had passed, the oxygen would return to the room on other domestic priorities, like paid leave. Given the President’s success on health care, progressive groups have renewed optimism that mandated paid leave might be possible.  However, there are many obstacles standing in the way of federally mandated paid leave.”

Global News

UK ‘behind’ on grandparent childcare provision

Katharine Sellgren • BBC, UK • June 8, 2010

“The study - written in partnership with the Beth Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London - said many grandparents struggled to juggle work and childcare, without financial support.  It said that a number of EU countries had taken steps to help grandparents.  This included measures to allow parents to transfer parental leave to grandparents, letting working grandparents take time off if their grandchild is sick and, in some circumstances, paying them for the care they provided.“

Britons’ Sick Days Waned as Recession Struck, Survey Shows

Svenja O’Donnell • Bloomberg Businessweek • June 6, 2010

“U.K. employees took the fewest sick days in more than two decades last year as the recession made Britons think twice before skipping work, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed.  Staff took 180 million sick days, an average of 6.4 days each, Britain’s biggest business lobby group and Pfizer Inc. said in an e-mailed statement today. That’s less than the 6.7- day average in 2007, the year measured in its last survey, and the least since the report began in 1987. About 15 percent of sick days probably weren’t genuine, the CBI said.”