Can flexibility help both workers and employers?
Policies that help employees balance the demands of work and life, once viewed as benefits bestowed largely on women by benevolent bosses, have evolved into strategies to achieve corporate goals. Studies show such policies increase both productivity and profitability and help companies hire and retain talented professionals. They are especially popular with millennials, who are pushing for greater flexibility in the workplace. While work–life programs traditionally have benefited working mothers, they also help fathers and other caregivers. Globalization and technological advances have spurred more companies to broaden their work–life policies, but putting such programs into practice can be complicated. Managers must measure work based on results or other markers instead of hours worked. And as established companies and start-ups increasingly operate via distributed or remote teams, where team members may be scattered around the world, managers must rethink how to oversee and motivate employees. Moreover, if not carefully implemented, work–life policies can lead to unequal treatment of staff or circumstances in which employees put in too many hours working from home.
Fried, Jason, and David Heinemeier Hansson, “Remote: Office Not Required, ” Crown Business, 2013. Founders of software company Basecamp, which sells a product that allows remote team collaboration, explore why employers increasingly want to “move work to the workers” and how to accomplish it.
Friedman, Stewart D., “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life,” Harvard Business Review Press, 2014. Based on his research and earlier books, a Wharton professor shares insights and skills on being whole and innovative in life and work, and profiles Bruce Springsteen, Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg.
Kossek, Ellen Ernst, and Brenda A. Lautsch, “CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age,” FT Press, 2007. Drawing on their research in work–life issues, Kossek, a Purdue management professor, and Lautsch, a Simon Fraser management professor, discuss six work–life patterns and the importance of boundaries and habits.
Williams Yost, Cali, “Work + Life: Finding the Fit That's Right for You,” Riverhead, 2004. A work/life consultant with an MBA from Columbia advises individuals on how to create a vision, develop clarity, plan for child- and elder-care and overcome roadblocks.
Beauregard, T. Alexandra, “Fairness Perceptions of Work–Life Balance Initiatives: Effects on Counterproductive Work Behavior,” British Journal of Management, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Bernard, Tara Siegel, “For Workers, Less Flexible Companies,” The New York Times, May 19, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Berry, Leonard L., Ann M. Mirabito and William B. Baun, “What's the Hard Return on Employer Wellness Programs?,” Harvard Business Review, December 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Schulte, Brigid, “More than a paycheck: New dads want paid leave to be caregivers,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Shellenbarger, Sue, “When the Boss Works Long Hours, Must We All?” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Stone, Brad, “Work–Life Balance and the New Night Shift,” Bloomberg Businessweek, Aug. 7, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Weber, Lauren, and Joann S. Lublin, “The Daddy Juggle: Work, Life, Family and Chaos,” The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“The New Dad Studies,” Boston College Center for Work & Family, 2010–14, http://www.thenewdad.org. Researchers at Boston College produce a series of studies on fathers' roles, conflict and more; paternity leave, conflict and staying home are among the subjects.
“Survey on Workplace Flexibility 2013,” WorldatWork, October 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
“2014 Employee Benefits,” Society for Human Resource Management, undated, http://tinyurl.com/
“Workplace Flexibility Still a Myth to Most,” Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, March 17, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Harter, James K., et al., “The Relationship Between Engagement at Work and Organizational Outcomes,” Gallup, February 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Matos, Kenneth, and Ellen Galinsky, “2014 National Study of Employers,” Families and Work Institute, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Van Deusen, Fredric R., et al., “Overcoming the Implementation Gap: How 20 Leading Companies are Making Flexibility Work,” Boston College Center for Work & Family, 2007, http://tinyurl.com/
Friedman, Stewart, “Work and Life,” SiriusXM radio, weekly, http://tinyurl.com/
Marsh, Nigel, “How to make work–life balance work,” Nigel Marsh, TED Talk, May 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Sagmeister, Stefan, “The Power of Time Off,” TED Talk, July 2009, http://tinyurl.com/
Weisberg, Anne, “Book Review: All Joy and No Fun,” Families and Work Institute, Aug. 26, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
“How Many People Telecommute?” Global Workplace Analytics, undated, http://tinyurl.com/
McGregor, Jena, “More proof that flexibility programs work,” The Washington Post, May 9, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Sveen, Lauren, “Working it out: Companies can benefit from unconventional hiring,” The Denver Post, Oct. 5, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Wiltz, Teresa, “Can Flextime Help Working Families Have It All?” Stateline (Pew Charitable Trusts), Sept. 30, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Guilford, Gwynn, “The economic case for paternity leave,” Quartz, Sept. 24. 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Krawczynski, Jon, “Pro sports becoming more open to paternity leave,” The Associated Press, April 14, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Lewis, Katherine Reynolds, “New dads confront uphill battle for paternity leave,” Fortune, June 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Ludden, Jennifer, “More Dads Want Paternity Leave. Getting It Is A Different Matter,” National Public Radio, Aug. 13, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Powell, Robert, “More companies offer financial wellness programs,” USA Today, Sept. 27, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Sanger-Katz, Margot, “Latest Good News in Health Spending: Employer Premiums,” The New York Times, Sept. 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Weber, Lauren, “Wellness Programs Get a Health Check,” The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 10, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Edwards, Verity, “A Hudson survey shows social skills help drive workplace productivity,” The Australian, Sept. 19, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Ho, Catherine, “Rise in retaliation claims reflect changing laws, attitudes about workplace bias,” The Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
Kratz, Greg, “Balancing act: Survey—Workers choose telecommuting to avoid office politics, interruptions,” Deseret News, Oct. 7, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
American Psychological Association Center for Organizational Excellence
760 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20002
Advocates for “psychologically healthy workplaces” by providing resources and giving annual awards.
Engage for Success
IPA Somerset House, West Wing 2nd Floor, Strand, London WC2R 1LA, United Kingdom
British organization that promotes the benefits of employee engagement; provides case studies and other research.
Families and Work Institute
267 Fifth Ave., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10016
Nonprofit research center that specializes in changing workplace and family needs; administers When Work Works Award.
901 F St., N.W., #400, Washington, DC 20004
Long-established research firm that conducts surveys on well-being, work hours, worker views.
Building A, 100 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Website where employees anonymously share view of bosses, hiring and more; also compiles lists of top 25 companies for work–life balance and for culture and values.
Human Resource Executive Online
747 Dresher Rd., Suite 500, Horsham, PA 19044-0980
Website that focuses on talent management, benefits, employee engagement.
National Alliance for Caregiving
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 205, Bethesda, MD 20814
Coalition of organizations focused on issues and research related to family caregivers, elder care and more.
National Partnership for Women & Families
1875 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 650, Washington, DC 20009
Nonprofit that conducts research, advocacy on paid sick days, flexibility and other topics.
Society for Human Resource Management
1800 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Largest professional association for human resources; provides information, research, policy and more on talent management.
World at Work and Alliance for Work–Life Progress
14040 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Human resources organization that focuses on pay, rewards, engagement. Gives awards to innovators, highlights studies and more. Also read Newsline for surveys, news and other information: http://tinyurl.com/
Work and Family Researchers Network
c/o Patricia Miller, Department of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, 3718 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6299
Member organization for academics and others who study flexibility, work–family and related topics.