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 24, 2011

Articles

Harkin: “Social contract has disappeared” for American Middle Class

• Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee • June 23, 2011

“Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee heard testimony from Americans who are struggling to make ends meet and those who are studying the decline of the middle class.  After delivering a speech on the Senate floor yesterday decrying Washington’s focus on cutting the deficit at the expense of needed investments in job creation, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) shared his view that middle class families are the backbone of the American economy, but are being largely ignored in Washington and shortchanged by economic policies that favor the wealthiest in society.”

“Certainly, the increased labor market work and better earnings opportunities for women represent an important societal advance.  But as these are families with children, it also represents a stress factor in families’ lives, contributing to another dimension of the squeeze; the challenge of balancing work and family life.  Middle-income wives increased their participation by 11 percent, added nine weeks, on average, over these years, amounting to over 400 extra hours of working the paid labor market.  That’s about 2.5 months of full-time work, added to the family schedule.” 

Dads, don’t sacrifice family for work

Ruth Mantell • MarketWatch • June 23, 2011

“While fathers do use flexible work arrangements, such as adjusting their hours and telecommuting, most do so informally, according to a recently released report from Boston College, based on a survey of about 1,000 white-collar working fathers.  But one way to increase the use and availability of flexible workplace arrangements is for men to be open about their needs, experts said.”

Leisure Trumps Learning in Time-Use Survey

Joe Light • Wall Street Journal • June 23, 2011

“Although during the recession’s aftermath many Americans have expressed the perception that their workloads have increased, the number of hours worked in fact has stayed fairly consistent, he said. […]But a gender gap does open up over leisure time. On average, women report spending five fewer hours per week on leisure than men, which indicates that although more women are working longer, they haven’t dialed back the time they spend on housework.”

Pessimism about National Economy Rises, Personal Financial Views Hold Steady

• Pew Research Center for People and the Press • June 23, 2011

“Moreover, substantial numbers of working people continue to express job-related anxiety: 27% say it is very or somewhat likely they may have their health care benefits reduced or eliminated, while 26% say it as at least somewhat likely they may be asked to take a pay cut. More than half of those who work full- or part-time (55%) say it is likely they may face one or more job-related problems in the next year—a pay cut, benefits cut or losing their job—up from 49% last year.”

Wal-Mart’s Authoritarian Culture

Nelson Lichtenstein • New York Times • June 21, 2011

“There are tens of thousands of experienced Wal-Mart women who would like to be promoted to the first managerial rung, salaried assistant store manager. But Wal-Mart makes it impossible for many of them to take that post, because its ruthless management style structures the job itself as one that most women, and especially those with young children or a relative to care for, would find difficult to accept.”

The Pursuit of Happiness: Can We Have an Economy of Well-Being?

Carol Graham • Brookings Institution • June 21, 2011

“In my forthcoming book, The Pursuit of Happiness, I posit that the definition of happiness that individuals select is partly determined by their capacity to pursue fulfilling lives. In the absence of that capacity—due, for instance, to lack of education and opportunity—people may place more value on day-to-day experiences, such as friendship and religious activities. Those with more capacity are likely focused—and take happiness from—pursuing some overarching objective or achievement. (Think of the scientist trying to cure cancer who sacrifices leisure and relationships in favor of time spent in the laboratory.) Some new research, including my own, supports this intuition.”

Events

Audio Conference: Flexible Scheduling for Low-Wage Workers

• Center for Law and Social Policy • June 28, 2011

“Join CLASP for a national audio conference June 28 from 3 - 4 p.m. ET to discuss a new report, Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation. The report explores the scheduling challenges facing low-wage hourly workers - namely rigidity, unpredictability, and instability - and explores solutions to these problems, ranging from shift-swapping, the ability to alter start and end times, and predictable scheduling to short-term and extended time off.“

Blogs

Disconnect to Reconnect – Follow-up

James Floyd Kelly • Wired - Geek Dad • June 24, 2011

“So Father’s Day came and went… and it was a great day. And not just because I chose to participate in the Disconnect to Reconnect event. But I must admit that turning off my laptop, putting away my mobile phone, and tucking the TV’s remote control between the couch cushions definitely made this Father’s Day feel a bit more special.”

Chart of the Day: Women Worked as Much as Men in 2010

Daniel Indiviglio • Atlantic - Business • June 23, 2011

“That’s a conclusion one can draw from the latest American Time Use Survey for 2010, compiled by theBureau of Labor Statistics. Although it contains a slew of fascinating statistics, perhaps no set of data is more interesting than the breakdown of the 24-hour day into the time Americans spent doing various activities.”

Time Out

Sheila Glaser • New York Times - 6th Floor • June 23, 2011

“Could reduced work hours, European-style, be far behind? For a glimpse of what work life might be like if we got our priorities straight (and upped our productivity, of course), it’s worth rereading Russell Shorto’s piece, ‘Going Dutch,’ about toiling in the welfare state, which ran in the magazine at the height of the economic crisis in the United States. My favorite European perk? Getting paid extra to take time off.”

The Happiness Dividend

Shawn Achor • Harvard Business Review Blogs • June 23, 2011

“Job satisfaction is not only the key predictor of turnover rates, in The Happiness Advantage, I make the research case for the fact that the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce. A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements. Yet even those companies that do take leadership training seriously still ignore the role that happiness plays in leadership effectiveness.”

Workplace Flexibility Helps Businesses Compete

Valerie Jarrett • White House Blog • June 22, 2011

“As we work to Win the Future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building the rest of the world, we must use every tool at our disposal, and workplace flexibility is one of those tools. At the same time, workplace flexibility will allow Americans to spend more time with their families, without jeopardizing their livelihoods. That’s why the work that Corporate Voices, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and others are doing is so important.”

Global News

Workaholics now in pursuit of leisure

Melissa Davey • Sydney Morning Herald • June 23, 2011

“Many people want to make more time for life outside work but do not know how to do so, says Professor Barbara Pocock, the director of the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia. […] But she says governments and workplaces have a responsibility to respond to societal changes such as longer commutes to work, a growing number of people caring for elderly parents and technology that allows workers to be on call at all hours. Nearly one-third of workers experience high fatigue, life and work strain, with little difference between men and women. Adding to this, Pocock says six out of 10 workers are responsible for the care of someone else, whether it be their parents or children.”

Pregnant? Wait till the boss hears

Amelia Gentleman • Guardian • June 23, 2011

“Danniella McClain, 28, waited until she reached the 13-week milestone and had seen the foetus on a scan before telling her boss. She was anxious, but fairly confident that it would be a straightforward conversation. Within seconds it was obvious the news was unwelcome; within days she was made redundant.”