Your Workers Think Using Work-Life Is A Career Killer (But How To Fix That)

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Oct 12, 2011

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When I first entered HR (and the workplace for that matter), I didn’t pay attention to the work-life balance of the places I worked at. I guess when you’re unmarried and in your young 20’s, that part of the deal didn’t matter so much.

I certainly did take notice the first time one of my employees took off early unexpectedly to take care of a child and that when I went to my boss for support, he actually told me that it was encouraged. Since that time, I’ve always been curious about the idea.

What was found in at least one study about work-life programs threw my biases for a bit of a loop though.

Initially, a study to track men’s use of work-life programs

As I started to track employees and get more acquainted with our programs as an HR leader, I started paying more attention to some of the statistics and findings around the perceptions and use of work-life programs. It was always my feeling that even men who could have used our programs were hesitant to do so.

It may have been that the perception was never accurate or that things have changed, perhaps for the worse.

This week on TLNT Radio, we were able to talk to Kathie Lingle and Rose Stanley, two of WorldatWork’s leaders on the topic of a recent study they did (a summary of which is available in PDF format to download).

It originally started out as a study on how men were utilizing work-life programs but their work found that the differences between different gender’s use of work-life programs (and their perceptions of them), weren’t different enough to warrant a study in and of itself.

The state of work-life programs

So they broadened it to talk about the current state of work-life programs both domestically and abroad. And some of the results were just a bit disheartening.

“The good news is that 80 percent of employers around the globe avow support for family-friendly workplaces” said Lingle. “The bad news is they are simultaneously penalizing those who actively strive to integrate work with their lives.”

And indeed, the study found that 31 percent of people had been overtly or subtly discouraged from using existing programs, 40 percent received unfavorable job assignments and 36 percent of people received negative comments from co-workers. That doesn’t even count those who worry that it will happen when they will use work-life programs at their companies.

In this week’s podcast, we talk in depth about the study as well as some positives and a few possible solutions.

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