You say you’re looking for a job where the workweek is short and work/life balance is cherished?
Well, if you’re reading this at an IP address in the United States, then you may need to pack a suitcase in addition to a briefcase in order to find a job that fits that description, according to this recent post on Quartz:
Reducing the workweek has long been deliberate public policy in a number of European countries, including France, the Netherlands, and Germany. It also seems to be a rule of thumb that technological leaps come with shorter working hours. This happened dramatically in the U.S. a century ago—the standard workweek dropped to about 40 hours by the 1930s, from more than 60 in the 1870s. More recently, South Korea reduced its average workweek to 41 hours from 48 between 2000 and 2014.
Meanwhile, “Americans spent around 34 hours per week at work, longer than any of the most technologically advanced OECD nations except Ireland.”
Many of us Americans would argue we already spend MORE than 34 hours at work per week, so why hasn’t the United States followed Europe’s lead?
For one, cultural values. America prides itself on a certain ambition that encourages long hours; to Americans this might make French workers seem lazy, while to Europeans it might seem that America is materialistic and status-obsessed.
America’s unions are also far weaker than Europe’s, making it difficult for low-earning workers to demand a bigger share of the country’s economic pie, whether that manifests as cash or time off.
Just another something to think about while you’re computing how many more hours you need to log before your next weekend begins.
Mother’s Day may be three days behind us, but the time still seems right to direct attention to CareerBuilder’s most recent poll focusing on working moms.
The Chicago-based employment website and HR software provider’s 2016 Mother’s Day survey questioned 2,186 hiring and HR managers, along with 1,002 working parents (593 working mothers and 409 working fathers) with children 18 years old and younger who still live with them at home.
The picture the findings paint looks all too familiar, unfortunately: Despite successfully shouldering the same load on the job and at home, working moms’ salaries still lag behind those of their male counterparts.
(In some cases, moms are actually taking on more responsibility with the kids, as 58 percent of working mothers said they spend four or more hours with their children every day during a typical workweek, compared to 41 percent of working dads who said the same.)
For example, at least two in five of the mothers and fathers surveyed indicated they were the sole breadwinner in their family. This survey, however, finds fathers in this role nearly three times as likely to earn $50,000 or more, and three times more likely to bring in a six-figure salary.
Naturally, all parents sometimes struggle to balance the personal and the professional, as 23 percent of working mothers and 26 percent of employed fathers say they’ve missed three or more significant events in their children’s lives in the last year.
Many mothers still feel they can strike that elusive work/life balance, though. Eighty-two percent of those surveyed feel they can “have it all.” Just 50 percent, however, feel they are equally successful in their jobs and as parents, with 36 percent considering themselves more successful as a parent and 14 percent feeling they excel more at work.
All that said, it seems working mothers—and working fathers, for that matter—wouldn’t give up the work/life juggling act even if they could. Overall, 40 percent said they would be unlikely to leave their jobs if their spouse or partner made enough for the family to live comfortably. In addition, 55 percent of working moms suggested they wouldn’t be willing to take a pay cut if it allowed them to spend more time with their kids (66 percent of working dads indicated as much).
Still, while many women balancing family obligations with professional duties feel they have a handle on both, the issue of pay equality continues to make the job more difficult.
“The pressure to succeed in both arenas can be tough, especially if you’re not earning enough money to take care of financial demands at home,” said Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder CHRO, in a statement highlighting the Mother’s Day survey findings. “More working moms today feel that they are able to balance the needs of their professional and personal worlds, but household income still remains a major concern.”
Worker classification can be a major headache for companies of all shapes and sizes, but for employers embracing the shared-economy business model, it can be one of migraine proportions.
No one knows this better than Uber, which has been facing an onslaught of lawsuits from drivers seeking employee status. Were the drivers to win that battle in the courts, the implications for the firm’s business would be huge.
Well, as you may have heard, Uber avoided that potential outcome in California and Massachusetts when it settled two class-action lawsuits: O’Connor vs. Uber and Yucesoyvs. Uber, respectively.
Drivers will remain independent contractors, not employees;
Uber will pay $84 million to the plaintiffs (and there would be a second payment of $16 million if Uber goes public and its valuation increases one-and-a-half times from its December 2015 financing valuation within the first year of an IPO);
The firm will provide drivers with more information about their individual rating and how it compares with their peers. (It would also introduce a policy explaining the circumstances under which it deactivates drivers in these states from using the app); and
The parties would work together to create a driver’s association in both states, with Uber helping to fund these two associations.
In a post about the settlements, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote that Uber is “pleased that this settlement recognizes that drivers should remain as independent contractors, not employees,” noting that drivers value their independence—the freedom to push a button rather than punch a clock.
Kalanick admitted that, as Uber has grown, “… we haven’t always done a good job working with drivers.”
As a story in the Los Angeles Timespoints out, the settlement still needs to be approved by a judge in the District Court of Northern California, which could take months.
“If approved,” the paper reports, “the payment will be distributed among drivers in California and Massachusetts who performed at least one trip up until the date of the preliminary settlement approval. Distribution will be based on miles driven while a passenger was in the car.”
The plantiffs’ attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, released a statement to various press outlets saying the settlement was the right move, considering the risk of having a jury rule against the plaintiffs.
Earlier today, I spoke to Thomas Lewis, a shareholder in the Princeton, N.J., office of Stevens & Lee, who told me it was probably a smart move for Uber, too.
“What’s interesting about the Uber case is that the class-action settlement came just short of effectively giving certain rights to these independent contractors that should belong to employees,” he said. “So this is telling me that Uber is clearly aware that there could be a push to classifying independent contractors as employees were it to go through the court system and there was an adjudication.”
And it’s no secret, of course, that, were Uber to come up on the losing end of a court battle, it would be costly, considering the company’s business model.
Of course, there’s no way to know if this will put an end to the worker-classification issue at Uber. Lewis noted if a new class action is filed, it would be need to be filed with a different set of facts or issues that were brought forth.
But at least for the time being, you would think Uber executives should be able to rest a little easier.
According to the article, Ford Motor is reportedly looking to invest more than $1 billion into making its workplace a lot cooler.
The piece called into mind last year’s General Electric commercial, in which the main character, Owen, is surprised by friends with a cake, balloons and noisemakers. Why? Because they heard he had landed a job as a software developer. When he explains he’s going to be working for General Electric writing code for trains and planes, however, his friends seem confused, with one saying, “You mean you’re going to work on a train?”
It’s a clever commercial (a favorite of mine, I might add) that successfully gets across the point that GE in no longer just an industrial powerhouse, but rather an organization that’s increasingly depending on technological innovation to drive its businesses.
Nor is GE alone in that regard. Automakers such as Ford are also realizing they’re competing in a very different business environment today.
As Doron Levin writes in Forbes’ piece, “The No. 2 U.S. automaker has been saying that it believes digital companies like Uber Inc. and Good could overturn auto making unless it can create mobility products and services instead of just cars and trucks.”
Ford, in response, is now committed to revamping its workplace in order to make it an attractive place to work and, as the Ford press release puts it, “foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company.”
According to the release, the 10-year transformation of the company’s 60-plus-year-old Dearborn facilities will co-locate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of workspace will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.
Changes include “a walkable community with paths, trails and covered walkways,” a new design center, autonomous vehicles, on-demand shuttles, e-bikes, new on-site employee services, wireless connectivity speeds that are up to 10 times faster than today, and more green spaces.
A second campus location—around the current Ford World Headquarters building—will feature “a new Ford Credit facility and provide on-site employee services, improved connectivity and enhanced accessibility to the expansive green space that surrounds the building.”
As Ford President and CEO Mark Fields notes, “As we transition to an auto and a mobility company, we’re investing in our people and the tools they use to deliver our vision. Bringing our teams together in an open, collaborative environment will make our employees’ lives better, speed decision making and deliver results for both our core and emerging businesses.”
It’s just one more example of how new business models, including those coming out of Silicon Valley, are increasingly borrowing from the Silicon Valley playbook and are beginning to think differently about their workplaces.
Think different? Now wouldn’t that make a nice ad slogan for someone.
I just got off the phone with Shani Godwin, the fascinating CEO of a small business in Smyrna, Ga., called Communiqué USA — and, rather than wait another minute before getting her whole work/life approach into a post, I’m typing now. That’s how much her message has inspired me.
She caught my eye in an initial email spelling out the details of a policy she implemented many years ago — long before France announced its new law last April banning all employees from emailing for work past 6 p.m.
In Godwin’s case, she disallows her employees to email for work past 7 p.m. on weeknights and throughout the weekends. And she’s been doing that — and much, much more — almost since she founded her company 14 years ago because of her sincere belief that your employees are only as good as the people you allow them to be.
And that, she would tell you, includes parents who need to be at a bus stop at 2:30 p.m., or a T-ball game for an entire afternoon, or a school play or doctor’s appointment. It includes elder-caregivers who need to tend to Mom or Dad, or a spouse or significant other, or God forbid, a loved one in hospice.
It also includes any and all employees who are sick for however long it takes them to get well (I was talking to Godwin the day she returned from being out for a full week with the flu), or who might simply be feeling burned out and in need of time away from the office or maybe a two-week vacation. (If you’re wondering how far afield this vacation concept is, read Mike O’Brien’s HRE Daily post about the upsurge among millennials of what’s being called “vacation shame.”)
“People loan themselves to the job every day,” says Godwin. “If I can’t give back so these people can enjoy the first 18 years of a child’s life, then what good am I and what good are they?” In fact, she chooses to have happy, balanced employees instead of what seems to still dominate the corporate American workforce (drained, overworked and always-on, 24/7, workaholics. ) She insists on it. She even makes her email policy and work/life commitment part of every client contract.
“We don’t finalize any assignment involving clients and employees until all details are clear and agreed upon,” she says. “If the person we’re assigning the contract to needs to be at the bus stop at a certain time every day, it’s written into the contract. So is the fact that no one from our company will be getting back to the client via email past 7 p.m. or on weekends.”
How do clients feel about that? They seem to be more accepting than employees, it seems.
“We have to be very strict and policing sometimes about keeping to this commitment to balance,” Godwin says. “Employees, employers, society in general, we’re all connected. To truly have balance, you need strict boundaries, and you need to adhere to them. It’s never been the clients who need reminding; it’s actually the employees. We have to say, ‘Hey, we saw you sent that email at 8 p.m. … don’t do that again.’ ”
In the last year, “the company has grown, project by project, from five employees to 15,” she says. Albeit still a very small company, it’s big enough now to demand a more systemic, structured, formalized and policy-driven approach if everyone is going to really adhere to her be-good-to-yourself and be-free restrictions. “For my staff,” she says, “I encourage them all to decide to what extent they want to work.”
That means, if work builds up and there’s too much for an employee with small children to handle, given his or her work/life-balance criteria, Godwin says, “we just hire someone else to fill that need and our message to the current employee is, ‘Thank you for doing your personal best to create another job for another person to come in.’ Rather than simply ‘rewarding’ them with more work [which no doubt goes on in corporate America far more than we think, methinks], we create another job so that person is still protected and able to pick up her kids every day.”
So where does this most-unique position in business come from? All the way back to when Godwin was a member of corporate America herself, with advertising and marketing stints at Bell South and Chick-fil-A, as well as other large employers.
“Fourteen years ago, I could not envision how I could possibly keep up the schedule I had and ever have a life, or ever even entertain the thought of having a family.”
She remembers asking herself back then, “How can I really be there for ballet classes and baseball games? That’s simply not going to happen.”
“I personally believe we have no company without our employees and if they’re happy and living balanced lives, they’ll be energized and productive, and the clients will be treated well,” says Godwin.
“There no sense in bugging someone to give you [a report or piece of information] while they’re attending a funeral” or involved in a birth … or even just a kid’s activity.
“It’s been a personal decision for me to put people before profit,” she says, and it appears to be paying off in terms of retention, morale and employee-satisfaction results.
Could it work in the same corporate America she left 14 years ago? I guess we won’t know until we try.
There’s been no shortage of studies over the years on the topic of work/life balance and its impact on employee effectiveness, with most suggesting the two are undeniably intertwined.
Well, the latest of these studies is the focus of a piece by Susan Dominus titled “Rethinking the Work-Life Equation” in this Sunday’s The New York Times Magazine. In it, Dominus, a staff writer for the magazine, references the latest research by University of Minnesota Professor Phyllis Moen and MIT Professor Erin Kelly, published this month in the American Sociological Review.
Another outcome of the research, Dominus writes: Over a three-year period, employees were less interest in leaving their organizations.
Moen and MIT conducted their research in the technology department of a corporation that chose to remain nameless, dividing half of the employees into a control group that still operated under the company’s usual policy (in which flexibility was at the manager’s discretion) and the other half in an experimental group that were allowed to work where and when they wanted. In the case of the latter, the emphasis was on results, not hours worked.
As Dominus’ story points out, Moen “believes that ‘the mother-may-I approach’ to flexibility — one that relies on manager discretion—holds too many people back from acting on the policy. Instead, she wants to overhaul corporate culture so that flexibility is a living, breathing, vital aspect of work, a default mode rather than a privilege.”
In other words, policy alone isn’t enough for work/life balance to succeed; the corporate culture also needs to transformed.
Besides Moen, the NYTM article also quotes several other experts, including one who emphasizes the need to make any change initiative gender-neutral.
Another source suggests in the piece that “work/life fit” is a better way to describe initiatives than “work/life balance,” because it better “captures how employees are trying to piece the disparate parts of their lives together.” (Dominus notes that both the American Psychological Association and the Society for Human Resource Management have started to use this term.)
Whatever you decide to call it, I think it’s safe to assume employers someday are going to have to figure out the best way to address the issue of employee flexibility in their organizations—and maximize its value. And if we’re to believe what Dominus is suggesting in her story—and what Moen and Kelly are telling us in their research—it may take more than just a policy tweak or two to reap the full rewards of your work/family or work/life efforts.
In the United States, paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave continues to be fairly rare. Indeed, the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2015 Employer Benefits Survey reports that about 21 percent of employers provided paid maternity leave in 2015 and 17 percent offered paid paternity or adoption leave.
Lately, it’s been “new-economy” companies like Apple, Netflix and Microsoft that have been getting much of the attention on this front. But as we were reminded earlier this week, “old-economy” companies are jumping on this bandwagon, too.
Dow Chemical, founded in 1897 by Herbert Henry Dow, announced on Wednesday the launch of its Global Parental Leave Policy, giving a minimum of 12 weeks paid leave to mothers and two weeks paid leave to non-birthing parents. Leave can be taken during the 12 months following the birth of a child.
The enhanced Dow policy also supports requests to limit travel for new mothers during the first year following the birth of a child and assists nursing mothers who are required to travel for company business through the reimbursement of the cost of packaging and shipping of breast milk.
Further, it provides company-wide nursing rooms and breast-pump assistance, a family illness policy, and counseling and support through its Health Services group.
Dow’s CHRO, Johanna Söderström, pointed out in a press release that the expanded policy reinforces the company’s strong support for the well-being of its employees and their families.
As a piece featured last year on the Entrepreneur website notes, Dow Chemical joins other more traditional employers that offer “radically awesome” leave policies for new parents, such as Johnson & Johnson, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.
Anecdotally, there seemed to be a decent amount of movement on the paid time-off-for-parents front for organizations of all types in 2015—so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the needle move some when SHRM releases its next survey.
Assuming that turns out to be the case, one would think the uptick was due in part not only to significant media coverage this issue has been getting in recent months, but also to the growing recognition by employers that it’s the right direction to be heading in—both for employees and themselves.
I’m not usually one for repeating content here one week to the next, but I simply had to share news of this pretty sizable gift while we’re all in the midst of the gift-giving season.
In an announcement last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor put significant money — up to $25 million in grants — where President Obama’s mouth has been in his support of working families struggling with today’s workforce realities.
Essentially, the grants will support public-private partnerships that bridge gaps between local workforce-development and child-care systems. Funded programs will enable parents to access training and customized support services needed for jobs primarily in information technology, healthcare and advanced manufacturing, though not necessarily confined to just those three.
The money, according to the DOL, will become available to these partnerships beginning in the spring and will be aimed at helping parents obtain affordable, quality child care so they can “pursue education and training opportunities leading to good jobs in growing industries.”
As U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez puts it in his announcement of the initiative:
“For too many working parents, access to quality, affordable child care remains a persistent barrier to getting the training and education they need to move forward on a stronger, more sustainable career path. Our economy works best when we field a full team. That means doing everything we can to provide flexible training options and streamlined services that can help everyone in America realize their dreams.”
This move by the government certainly underscores the attention employers and work/life experts have been paying to the needs of working parents lately. A search of this HRE Daily site, starting with my post last week lamenting the slow motion paternity leave seems to be in, along with this search of our parental-leave news analyses on our magazine’s HREOnline™ site, shows this push — some might even call it competition — by organizations to prove they’re family-friendly will be a hot agenda item heading into 2016.
Hopefully, employers and government agencies can come together and really start engaging in a national dialogue as opposed to each entity trying to outdo the other.
This move by the DOL seems to be a step toward that coming-together idea. It stipulates that grants up to $4 million will be awarded to partnerships that include the public workforce system, education and training providers, business entities and local child-care or human-service providers; more importantly, the release states, “all partnerships must include at least three employers.”
Personally, if this truly does lead to my kids, and my kids’ kids, having more at their fingertips than I did to survive the chaos of young parenthood coupled with work and the constant struggle to get ahead, then the gift is for me too.
Came across this LinkedIn post the other day by Jake Anderson about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recently announced few-months’-paternity leave for his daughter.
Anderson, co-founder of FertilityIQ, lays out pretty thoroughly why so few new dads (fewer than 50 percent) actually take the time Zuckerberg is taking, even when they’re encouraged to by their employers:
“Despite the ‘entrepreneur-as-rockstar’ boom, nearly every working dad (and mom) I know is still middle management. Whether you work at Publix, Pinterest or PGE, being middle management means essentially the same thing: You have just enough responsibility to have direct reports who can bungle something critical. But not quite enough responsibility to ensure you won’t get edged out, undermined, displaced or overlooked. You’re vulnerable, and probably a tad paranoid.
“Nearly 50 percent of dads on paternity leave checked email once per day and cite workplace pressure and stigma for cutting leave short. When asked what is the ‘ideal’ time for them to be gone, most men answered two weeks. Weirdly enough, that’s [often] the same duration their employers thought.”
We’ve certainly written about men’s reluctance to take the kind of new-father leave they probably should, and companies’ reluctance to offer it, both here on HRE Dailyand on our HRE website — as well as the problems new moms have in making maternity and work … well, work.
What’s different is Anderson’s characterization of his own demographic group and what might really lie behind this reluctance:
“Amidst the silent apprehension, paternity leave should feel like a godsend. For a generation committed to data and proof, there are reams of studies that demonstrate taking paternity leave creates equality in the home and healthier relationships between father and child. Reading on, and between, the lines of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement, he buys into the notion paternity leave helps address concerns that haunt so many men of our generation.
“But nearly 50 percent of dads who have the option to use generous paternity leave (let’s call it four-plus weeks), still don’t take all of it. What’s even weirder is that when dads were asked if they should get longer paternity leave, a healthy majority answered ‘no.’ Where I came from, people don’t just turn down paid leave lightly, so you better believe something else is up.”
Anderson doesn’t pretend to know exactly what that phenomenon is that’s “up.” But he does take a stab at it: Men are either suffering from a fear of missing out at work or a fear of wading through too many nitty-grittys of new parenthood, what he calls a “fear of being included (in diapers).” Or both, which he thinks is probably the case.
What he does provide employers and HR is a four-point plan of action that is most definitely worth thinking about:
Closely track which men are likely to reach which levels of role and salary in three years and compare the cohorts of men who took leave and their comparables who did not.
Each year, publicly, and honestly, reveal the data by department.
In departments where a consistent disparity exists, force every new father to take six weeks paid leave, until either the negative cultural bias is washed out or the best practice of leave becomes commonplace.
In departments where no meaningful disparity exists, allow new fathers to make their own decisions.
Without a doubt, parental leave is becoming an increasingly important and serious consideration for employers that want to keep their best people around and happy. Consider this announcement a week ago today introducing a new consultancy for employers devoted to nothing but parental leave.
(Here’s the official website of the new group, the Center for Parental Leave Leadership — partnering, impressively, with the likes of the Working Parent Support Coalition, Working Mother Media, Cornell University, the Families and Work Institute and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Clearly, more than just this group sees a need for more help on the employer front.)
Where we all go from here in this ongoing social experiment called working parenthood, let’s not only all take it dead seriously (“past the press-release stage [and onto] harder measures,” as Anderson writes); let’s make sure we’re all in it together, moms and dads.
A new study, titled Death of the Desk Job — based on a survey of 1,700 North American full-time employees in order to understand how the traditional workday is changing based on employee preferences — finds 70 percent would leave their job for one that offers more workday flexibility, including the ability to work remotely more often.
The study also found 55 percent of employees have more flexible work hours than they did two or three years ago. In addition, 75 percent of employees said they’re able to keep more family, social and personal commitments because they can remotely access work anytime they need.
Technology has made it easier than ever for employees to stay connected to the workplace anytime, anywhere and, as a result, employees increasingly enjoy more flexibility over their schedules, says David MacDonald, president and CEO at Softchoice, which commissioned the survey.
“We found most people really value the freedom to customize their workday – to be able to run an errand, schedule an appointment, or pick up their kids from school, and catch up on work when it suits them. Organizations that enable that kind of flexibility have become highly desirable places to work.”
Additional highlights from the study include:
•Employees don’t think their desk, or even their office, is where they do their best work: 62 percent of employees believe they’re more productive working outside the office.
•The 9-to-5 workday is passé: 61 percent of employees prefer working the equivalent of an eight hour workday broken up over a longer day, rather than in a single 9-to-5 block.
•Out of Office Alert! Has technology made us too accessible? 57 percent of employees work remotely on personal or sick days, and 44 percent of employees worked on their last vacation.
•Most organizations are enabling a mobile workforce, but not governing one: 59 percent of employees receive a device from their employer for work in and out the office, however, just 24 percent of organizations have set clear policies and expectations around appropriate work activities after business hours.
“Though many organizations enable remote work by issuing corporate devices, technology alone isn’t enough to fulfill evolving employee needs,” MacDonald says. “Not everyone has the same definition of work/life balance, so it’s up to the employer to set clear expectations around acceptable work activities beyond business hours.”
Given the scope of this survey and prior research on this topic, it’s clear that today’s (and, most likely, tomorrow’s) employees are looking for more novel ways to be productive workers while not actually at work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Employers should take note and help them find those new ways to work. It’s a win-win.
News, Strategies and Resources for Senior HR Executives (formerly The Leader Board)