Dr. Damayanti Vasudevan
Roundtable Discussion: Work Life Balance
What is it?
q Group quickly established that there is no simple or single definition
q Similar efforts or initiatives may be labeled differently by different organizations (e.g. work life quality, work life integration, unique people experience)
q Varies widely across many dimensions of differences:
o Cultures & societies
o Job types (production, professional, service, etc.)
o Job levels
o Country economy
o Country views on women in general
q Varies in levels/degree of formality across companies
o Some have more formalized programs but that does not mean they are well used
§ Reduced hours
§ No meeting Fridays
§ Job sharing
§ Flex schedules
o Some have informal practices that are just individually negotiated between employee and company and/or manager
How do you ensure success – no matter what you call it?
q Ensure policies apply to all who qualify within a position or level. E.g both men and women. Qualified – means performance standards are met and business impact is considered
q Ensure that work is not shifted from an employee with flex schedules or reduced hours to other employees. Prevent/minimize potential for perceptions of inequality and/or resentment.
q Follow-up with efforts to create a culture of support. Implementing policies is only the first step. Ensure behaviors of leaders and messages sent support policy.
q Establish realistic understanding of career tradeoffs. Individuals need to understand that different life stages and non-work goals impact needs in the workplace. Meeting these needs (e.g. reduced hours) will impact career progress at that stage.
q Establish a tone of support from top down.
q Recognize that managers make a huge difference between success and failure.
Whose agenda do work life programs meet?
q Companies benefit if they can retain strong talent through these programs
q Individuals at all levels benefit with some programs – eg. Summer Hours – provides flexibility for those with non-work commitments (e.g. family) as well as non-work leisure activities (e.g. golf).
q Company research has shown that men and women value work life programs equally.
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