A new study entitled, “2015 Workplace Flexibility Study.” by Workplace Trends and CareerArc revealed that in a national survey of 1087 professionals, 67% of the 116 HR professionals who participated claimed that their employees have a balanced work-life. In contrast, 45% of employees (and 35% of job seekers) felt that they don’t have enough time each week to address personal activities. Employers admitted that they expect workers to be reachable outside of the office: 18% by email, 3% by phone and 26% by both email and phone. One in five employees surveyed said that the average time spent working during personal time outside the office is over 20 hours per week.
Attitudes Vary with Manager:
Let me share a personal experience here. I am sure many of you must have had similar experiences at one time or the other in your careers. My very first job involved having responsibility for a large amount of cash. So, taking a day off required advance notice and planning to ensure that someone would be available to manage the cash and the keys to the safe. When I applied for leave to attend my brother’s wedding, my manager flew into a rage. Turns out he remembered the time he was in a role like mine many years ago, when his brother got married. He had applied for leave, and was all dressed up and ready to go – but was stuck, because his replacement never materialized. His bitter memories were still so fresh, that he openly refused to facilitate my plans, some thirty years later, even though there were at least 20 others who could take charge from me.
Unfortunately, the determination of whether a request is “reasonable” often lies with the individual manager. Many managers and employers feel entitled to interrupt their subordinates’ weekends, holidays, and vacations. The problem then perpetuates itself. When faced with such experiences, the subordinate may adopt similar draconian policies later in life when in a position of authority or supervision of others.
The “Abusive Boss” Test:
Ask yourself if you are guilty of any of the following actions that cause your employees to label you as an abusive boss. If so, don’t be surprised if your key employees are quietly looking for another position, and discouraging their friends and colleagues from joining your company.
Some Steps Employers can take to Provide Work-Life Balance:
Everyone talks about the importance of work-life balance. But there will always be some sacrifices required of people whether they are software programmers or snow clearing crews. Work is not only about making a living; it is also about being sincere about our contribution to the workplace as much as the family. The workplace may hold a clear advantage, in these days of high pressure delivery deadlines and precarious work engagements. We all recognize that emergencies occasionally occur, requiring work during off-hours. However, if “emergencies” occur on a regular basis, it is time for the company to consider whether the real problem is an ineffective manager who may need to be replaced.
Work-life balance is now a central driver of career success and job choices for women as well as men. If committed to ensure the work-life balance of employees, employers can:
Advantages to Employers:
Men and women today have to balance a successful career with family and civic commitments, live good lives and make sure that they pay for their children’s education and save for their retirement. For many, it is a tall order, and possible only if their employers are also committed to employee engagement and work-life balance.
Not all companies have succeeded at the adoption of flexible work, and the withdrawal of remote working option by Yahoo seems to indicate that. When implementing flexible work options, employers must communicate that flexible work options will be discontinued if there is evidence of abuse or declines in productivity. Managers must be trained on how to effectively manage flexible work environments. Companies that have successfully adopted these approaches have experienced significant business gains.
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