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?

July 2, 2010

Articles

Fix Social Security by hiking retirement age

Robert Powell • MarketWatch • July 2, 2010

“Boehner wants to increase the retirement age to 70 for people who have at least 20 years until retirement, plus tie cost-of-living increases to wages rather than the consumer price index, and limit payments so they only go to people who need them, according to published reports. The current Social Security ‘normal retirement age’ for those born in 1960 or later is 67.”

Family-friendly firms have more productive workers, Watertown study says

Sarah Thomas • Boston Globe • July 1, 2010

“People who work for companies that provide services such on-site child care and time off for caring for sick children are more likely to be productive employees, a family consulting group based in Watertown said this week.  They also have less stress and a remarkably higher quality of life, according to a study released by Bright Horizons, which interviewed more than 4,000 working parents.  The study, conducted with Northeastern University, said that people who work for companies that provide these benefits reported fewer headaches and stress-related illnesses, and were 31 percent less likely to report lost productivity due to stress.”

Obama administration needs to work more on telecommuting, report says

Joe Davidson • Washington Post • July 1, 2010

“It’s not exactly a case of all hat and no cattle, but when it comes to teleworking, Uncle Sam needs to put more action where his mouth is.  That’s one conclusion of a report on government teleworking efforts that the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton planned to issue Thursday.  The partnership, a nonprofit organization that focuses on federal workplace issues, and the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm welcome efforts by the Obama administration and Congress to promote teleworking.”

It’s Casual Friday, Every Day

Sarah Ball • Newsweek • June 24, 2010

“Telecommuting is changing our culture—and so are the fields we’re choosing to work in, from near or far. The Department of Labor calls computer-systems design and related services ‘among the fastest growing industries in the economy,’ and says sectors software engineering and data systems are the most likely to surge over the next five years—jobs you can do from anywhere, no-suit-required.”

How the Great Recession Has Changed Life in America

Wendy Wang and Rich Morin • Pew Research Center •

“A new Pew Research survey finds that 30 months after it began, the Great Recession has led to a downsizing of Americans’ expectations about their retirements and their children’s future; a new frugality in their spending and borrowing habits; and a concern that it could take several years, at a minimum, for their house values and family finances to recover.  The survey also finds that more than half of the adults in U.S. labor force (55%) have experienced some work-related hardship — be it a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or an involuntary move to part-time work.”

Blogs

The Recovery Is Losing Steam

David Leonhardt • New York Times - Economix • July 2, 2010

“Job growth in the private sector has slowed — to 83,000 last month and a three-month average of 119,000. From February to April, the private sector added 154,000 jobs a month. (With the Census winding down, the federal government cut jobs last month, which explains the drop in overall employment.)  And unlike in May, when private-sector job growth slowed but the workweek got longer, employers cut hours last month, too. Total hours worked last month fell in June for the first time since February. [. . .] To the extent that the report offered any silver linings, they included a drop in the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time work (to 8.6 million, from 8.8 million).“

Survey Finds Fewer Layoffs, but Lower Compensation

Emmeline Zhao • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • July 2, 2010

“There may have been fewer layoffs in the second quarter, but employers are trimming costs in other ways, according to a recent report.  For the fifth consecutive quarter, fewer employees in a Glassdoor employment confidence survey of 2,418 U.S. adults reported layoffs. But the majority of respondents — 57% — said their companies made compensation adjustments including cuts to salary, benefits or perks.”

America May Never Be the Same

William Galston • New Republic • July 2, 2010

“We don’t have enough evidence to conclude that the Great Recession will generate the kind of long-lasting risk aversion that characterized the Depression-era generation throughout their lives. But we do have reason to believe that for some time to come, what Keynes famously called ‘animal spirits’ will remain subdued, which suggests that we’re in for a slow recovery and historically high levels of unemployment for much of this decade. If the Pew report is on target, the ‘new normal’ will be more than a slogan.“

Equality Around the World

Lisa Belkin • New York Times - Motherlode • July 1, 2010

“What about the rest of the world? I am often asked that question when I write about parenting — particularly division of labors within families and government policy toward families. [. . .]  The broad answer seems to be there is firm support for equal rights in more places than not, but still a deep vein of belief in many places that ‘men should get preference when it comes to good jobs, higher education or even in some cases the simple right to work outside the home,’ writes reporter Victoria Shannon.”

Global News

Men “less engaged in work than women”

Avril Ormsby, Writer; Steve Addison, Editor • Reuters • June 30, 2010

“It comes at a time when the British government is looking to speed up plans to raise retirement ages in a bid to rein in a record peacetime budget deficit. Van Laar also said the findings suggested employers could increase employee retention, get higher productivity and reduce absenteeism if they found ways to increase young men’s engagement and satisfaction in the workplace. Employers could also try to better understand why women lose engagement at work mid-career, he said. The research quizzed 4,000 people at nine large educational organizations including academics, managers and cleaners as part of wider research into the quality of working life.”

Employers offer concessions as workplace demands escalate: Survey

Derek Abma • Montreal Gazette, Financial Post, Canada • June 30, 2010

“Most Canadian employers offer perks to help workers balance their professional and personal lives, though providing employees with the flexibility they seek doesn’t always come easy, according to survey results released Wednesday. A poll of 164 different organizations by human resources firm Hewitt Associates shows that most employers are offering things such as flexible work schedules, telecommuting, extra paid time off for personal reasons, education leave and job sharing.”