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?

January 25, 2011

Articles

Obama won’t endorse raising retirement age or reducing Social Security benefits

Lee Montgomery • Washington Post • January 25, 2011

“The direction of Obama’s speech became apparent over the weekend, when the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the elderly that he would not endorse the commission’s recommendation to raise the retirement age and make other cuts to Social Security - the single largest federal program.”

White House Unveils New Approach to Military Family Support

Elaine Wilson • U.S. Department of Defense - American Forces Press Service • January 24, 2011

“White House officials released a report today that unveils a new, governmentwide approach to military family support and details a sweeping, interagency effort under way to strengthen families and enhance their well-being and quality of life.  President Barack Obama announced the results of a nearly yearlong review of military family support today in a White House ceremony attended by the Defense Department’s top brass, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, service chiefs and their spouses.”

Termination pay adding up at HFD

James Pinkerton • Houston Chronicle • January 24, 2011

“The city’s long-standing policy allowing firefighters to cash in on their unused sick, vacation and holiday time has emerged as a critical factor in the Fire Department budget during the current fiscal crisis, as Fire Chief Terry Garrison seeks ways to trim operating expenses and avoid laying off firefighters or closing fire stations. [. . .] Garrison said the city owes the departing firefighters the money, adding the department saved funds in the past because overtime was not paid to staff shifts where firefighters worked instead of taking sick days or vacation time.”

Books as Bombs

Louis Menand • New Yorker • January 24, 2011

“The most brilliant thing about Friedan’s very brilliant book was her decision to call what was wrong with the lives of apparently comfortable and economically secure women ‘the problem that has no name’—and then to give it a name. [. . .] It seems almost a kind of magical thinking that caused people to believe that keeping capable, highly educated people at home—actually de-incentivizing them from entering the workforce—was a good way to win the Cold War. Whatever fairy dust was doing this to people, in the end it took a book to break the spell.”

Americans Worry More About Lack of Money Than Job Loss

Elizabeth Mendes • Gallup • January 20, 2011

“Clearly the two issues—jobs and available cash flow—are interrelated. But given that fewer than 1 in 10 Americans name unemployment or job loss as their top financial problem, and that 68% say they are not worried about job loss within the next 12 months, it appears most Americans are more worried about living well in their current situation rather than unemployment.”

Blogs

Short-Time Work Plans Saved Jobs

Phil Izzo • Wall Street Journal - Real Time Economics • January 24, 2011

“Short-time work programs effectively preserved jobs in many countries during the financial crisis, according to research from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.  An OECD working paper by economists Alexander Hijzen and Danielle Venn looks at whether government programs aimed at keeping workers on the job were effective. Under the programs, companies seeing low demand received government subsidies to cut hours or use temporary layoffs instead of letting workers go.”

Keeping employees during the federal ice age

Tom Fox • Washington Post - The Federal Coach • January 24, 2011

“In the broad sense, managers must focus on creating a healthy work environment to retain top performers. This includes creating good relationships between supervisors and their staffs and a sense of teamwork; having a strong agency mission and employee skill matches; providing for employee development and support; and creating a strong performance management culture combined with a good work/life balance.”

Social Security and the State of the Union

Nancy Altman • Huffington Post • January 24, 2011

“If President Obama and his fellow Democrats take this route, they can use the support of the American people to lead a powerful long-term movement not just to eliminate Social Security’s projected shortfall through increased revenue, but to push for higher benefits, particularly for those most disadvantaged, and for new benefits, such as paid parental leave, as the Social Security programs of many other nations provide.”

Tiger Mother Management

Joshua Gans • Harvard Business Review Blogs - The Conversation • January 21, 2011

“Managers face the same trade-offs in considering what economists term an agency problem. Like Chua, who wanted her children to do things they would have preferred not to do, so do managers try to figure out how to motivate and monitor their employees. So while being a hands-on manager may appear to require high effort, it is, in many respects, a gut reaction. It can be a much harder job to keep your distance while ensuring that things are still on track by engaging in managerial thought and vision.”

Global News

“It’s been a good week for dads. And for grandparents. Even for close family friends of people who have children. All of them, according to Nick Clegg, should be entitled to flexible chunks of parental leave to give them time to change nappies, rustle up baby food and worry about nursery fees.  In a well-meaning leap into child-friendly employment policy, the deputy PM has declared that families across Britain have ‘wildly different needs’ and that cookie-cutter solutions don’t recognise this diversity. Parental leave, Clegg argues, should be carved up and divvied out any way that suits mothers, fathers, relatives and family friends.”