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 11, 2011

Articles

Balancing Work/Life by the Hour

Michael O'Brien • Human Resource Executive Online • July 11, 2011

“Swanberg, who also co-authored the recent Flexible Workplace Solutions for Low-Wage Hourly Workers: A Framework for a National Conversation—along with Liz Watson of the Workplace Flexibility 2010 initiative at Georgetown Law School—says programs such as the university’s are important for hourly workers because they typically face a triple whammy when it comes to how their work schedules may affect their lives.”

Dilemmas Faced by Hourly Workers

Joan Williams • Human Resource Executive Online • July 11, 2011

“Is it impractical to offer workplace flexibility for hourly workers? No, it isn’t. What’s impractical is to offer hourly workers the same kind of flexibility companies make available to managers and professionals.  The entire field of workplace flex has been framed around the experience of professionals, whose work-family conflicts typically stem from very long hours and rigid career paths. Improving work/life fit in hourly jobs requires attention to quite different issues: the rigid jobs with erratic schedules often encountered by hourly employees.”

The Great Recession May Be Over, but American Families Are Working Harder than Ever

Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney • Brookings Institution • July 8, 2011

“Indeed, the question about how men or women are doing separately may not capture how the average family is doing. To help tell the full story we examined the earnings for households with children during the past thirty five years.  The numbers suggest that the typical American family is earning more, but almost entirely because parents are working more—not because they are earning more per hour. This is one more indicator that, even before the recession, the labor market was presenting challenges for many American families.”

Job Growth Falters Badly, Clouding Hope for Recovery

Motoko Rich • New York Times • July 8, 2011

“The protracted stretch of weak-to-moderate job creation over the last two years has left many of the people who lost jobs during the recession increasingly desperate. There are now 14.1 million unemployed, with 6.3 million of them having searched for work for six months or longer. Including those who are working part time because they cannot find full-time work and those who have stopped looking, the broader unemployment rate is now 16.2 percent, its highest level since December 2010.”

Ultraflex jobs: You choose hours, venue

Margaret Price • Christian Science Monitor • July 8, 2011

“Although the recession may be causing a temporary dip in telecommuting, according to a recent WorldatWork survey, the number of firms offering the option has jumped. Some 63 percent of organizations now offer some kind of telecommuting, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). That’s up eight percentage points in a year. Moreover, 20 percent of organizations now allow full-time telecommuting, up from 17 percent last year.  Workplace flexibility is no novelty for top executives and certain professionals. What’s changed, experts say, is that such perks are being extended to the entire workforce.”

“From government employees who stretch their flextime into three-day weekends to private-sector businesses that adopt summer hours because they realize nothing is getting done on Friday afternoons anyway, a growing number of Washington area residents are enjoying a workweek that ends on Thursday evening or midday Friday.  The shift has occurred despite the dreary economy and in the face of widespread anxiety about job security, according to economists and academics who study labor trends.”

Events

The Workforce Mosaic

• National Journal • July 12, 2011

“America’s workforce is currently being shaped by three converging trends: rapid growth in the nonwhite population, baby boomers who are staying in the workforce longer and veterans returning from the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As employers face unique challenges with recruitment, hiring and retention of a high-skilled and technically-skilled workforce, understanding this workforce mosaic becomes more important than ever.  Join National Journal and a panel of experts as we explore policy solutions to help strengthen the U.S. workforce as its composition evolves. “

Blogs

Stay-at-Home Dads Are More Likely to Divorce

Bonnie Rochman • Time - Healthland • July 11, 2011

“While attitudes about women working have evolved considerably, social pressure on men to be breadwinners is still strong, according to the study, which was published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Sociology. The study shows that unemployment, more than unhappiness in the relationship, predicts divorce — at least for men.”

June Jobs, Part 3: Somebody Do Something!

Jared Bernstein • On the Economy • July 8, 2011

“I also think Dean Baker’s idea of work sharing—reducing everyone’s hours a bit instead of laying off somebody (and using UI payments to make up a portion of the wage loss)—could help, though I doubt it’s a ‘quick route back to full employment.’  Take up in states that already have it is low, and so this might be hard to scale up…still, we should try–this program also has a very high bang-for-buck in terms of preserving jobs.”

Men, Women and the Great Recession

David Leonhardt • New York Times - Economix • July 8, 2011

“I do think it’s important to point out that this downturn — the recession combined with the weak recovery — has still been far tougher on men than women. That is, men haven’t outperformed women in the recovery nearly as much as men underperformed women in the recession.”

Is "Wellness" On The Job Possible Without Greater Work Flexibility?

Cali Williams Yost • Fast Company - Expert Blog • July 7, 2011

“But is wellness on the job possible without work+life flexibility?  To answer this question, I asked health and well-being communication expert Fran Melmed of Context Communications, Inc. and the Free Range Communications blog, to weigh in.”

Global News

“In families with mothers working ‘non-standard’ hours, such as weekends or evenings, fathers left to manage the kids on their own take on much more significant parenting responsibilities, introducing real change in gender roles. This might seem obvious - but it isn’t. When both parents spend time at home together with children, the default primary caring role continues to fall to mothers, so that fathers are less directly engaged with young children’s care even if they are in the same room. This ‘home alone’ finding offers a clue to how Australian parents might finally make progress in rebalancing the gender equation, and in reducing the extraordinary associated ‘stress load’.”