What Other Researchers Are Saying About Work+Life in the 21st Century

Work+Life “Fit” in the 4/16/06 New York Times, Career Couch Column – See my advice to people who want a life but have bosses who expect long hours in today’s 24/7 work reality….

Work+Life Research Round-up—Even More Confirmation of the New Work+Life “Fit” Reality

I am not alone in seeing a new 21st Century work+life “fit”reality. A number of recently released studies reinforce the message that strategic, mutually-beneficial work+life “fit” partnerships between individuals and employers are a key driver of future corporate competitive advantage and personal success.

Most of the studies were found through two of my favorite resources–Work and Family Connection (www.workfamily.com), which is a subscription work+life information clearinghouse out of Minnetoka, MN, and the Sloan Work and Family Research Network out of Boston College funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (www.wfnetwork.bc.edu), which is a free web-based information resource.

Yes, It’s an Everyone Issue (Not Just Working Mothers) Around the World! Towers Perrin just released its Global Workforce Study, Winning Strategies for a Global Workforce—Attracting, Retaining and Engaging Employees for Competitive Advantage. Here are some key findings:

  • Respondents came from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. 65% were male, and the remaining 35% female
  • Even with two-thirds of the respondents being male, “three keys areas of focus emerged across countries and cultures (when it comes to choosing a job): ensuring adequate compensation and financial security; achieving work/life balance; and having relevant learning and career opportunities.”

In short, a survey of predominately male employees from across the world consistently found work/life balance was one of the top three factors considered in the decision to take a job! (Note: I use the term work/life balance here and in a couple of other places later in the posting only because it’s the term used in the studies; however, I still believe it’s “fit,” not balance). Clearly, it is not just working mothers who place a premium on being able to work and still have time and energy for their personal life. It’s everyone, everywhere!

It’s Not Just Employees with Kids, It’s Also Retirees: A study conducted by Ernst&Young and the Human Capital Institute of HR professionals found that a majority of HR professionals believe Corporate America is facing a “significant wisdom withdrawl.” As more and more baby boomers retire, companies must find ways to retain that wisdom by offering part-time work+life “fit” flexibility. In fact, 80% of respondents to a recentAARPstudy said they wanted to work in some way during retirement.

It’s Not Just Employees, Business Leaders and Executives Are Increasingly More Stressed: The accounting firm, Grant Thornton , conducted a study of 7,000 business leaders from 30 countries, and found that 57% of executives worldwide reported more stress than in the prior year, up from 39%. While 45% of U.S. executives were more stressed than they were the prior year.

Companies Better Listen if They Want the Best Talent Because It’s Going to Be In Short Supply: The severity of the forecasted workforce shortage is under debate, but, according to the studies below, there is little doubt that we are already experiencing a critical talent shortage:

  • In Manpower’s study of 33,000 employees in 23 countries, 44% of U.S. companies surveyed said they lacked the talent they needed, as did companies in many other developed countries;.
  • In the National Association of Manufacturers/Deloitte Consulting 2005 Skills Gap Survey of 800 manufacturing companies, 80% said that skills shortages impact their ability to serve customers.
  • In the SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) study of 489 HR professionals polled, half said that job candidates and new hires lack competencies.

Good News-More and More Companies and Managers Are Addressing Work+Life: The “Making Flexibility Work: What Managers Have Learned About Implementing Reduced-Load Work” study (conducted by Ellen Ernst Kossak, Mary Dean Lee, et al.) of 80 managers and executives from 20 U.S. and Canadian companies found: 60% of the companies offered and used reduced work options, and 70% of the companies say that their culture is more accepting of reduced work options. While a March 2006 survey of 500 full-or part-time office workers by OfficeTeam found that over half felt their employer were “very supportive” of the efforts to achieve work/life balance. Of the 150 managers who answered the same question, 45% felt their company was “very supportive.”

Bottom line: Work+Life isn’t just a “nice thing to do,” it’s a strategic business imperative for businesses to support, AND it’s a personal career management strategy for all individuals to embrace. It’s important to you, now make it a reality.

Join me on Tuesday, April 25th for the next Work+Life “Fit” Blog!