Category Archives: media

Media clipping related to work autonomy, flexibility and work-life balance.

The Feminist Case For Paternity Leave – Huffington Post

To promote women at work, companies should be looking to provide men with more benefits, including committing to offering paternity leave.

Making leave for new parents gender-neutral, allowing both new mothers and fathers time to look after their child, would help to reduce the ‘motherhood’ penalty faced by women who, after taking parental leave, are less likely to be promoted and earn less than their male colleagues.

For paternity leave policies to have any affect, however, companies must do more than announce them. Rather, they need to encourage men to use them and help change workplace cultures where men fear taking paternity leave will damage their careers.

 

The more men that take paternity leave the sooner it will be normalised. This will mean new fathers and their child can benefit from more time spent together, and also that women will no longer face the stigma of taking maternity leave.

 

Read more the Huffington Post.

Presenteeism over productivity: why flexible working needs a rebrand – The Guardian

Despite the popularity, and range, of discussion about flexible working it remains viewed as something pursued only by those without ambition.

That is, flexible working is viewed, simply, as working less. This is problematic as contemporary work cultures still reward working long hours, “as if our achievements are somehow less impressive if we haven’t sweated blood and sacrificed our sanity, health and home life to get there”.

 

The stereotypical flexible worker tends to be a parent (usually a mother) trying to adapt their work schedules with childcare. However, there is a larger pool of people who don’t have family commitments and don’t want to cut their hours, but who would still like to take advantage of flexible working practices and benefits it could bring to their personal and working lives.

Yet, while flexible working remains seen as a second-class option it will not deliver its potential in promoting employee retention and productivity. Workplaces need to undergo a cultural change wherein mere ‘presenteeism’ isn’t accord special significance over more meaningful measures of employee achievement at work.

Read more at The Guardian.

Flexible working key to solving sickness absence – Workplace Savings and Benefits

One in five UK workers have called in sick due to unmanageable stress – and 93% of these workers gave a different reason for their absence.

Excessive workloads, long hours and poor work-life balance are often cited as causing workplace stress. As such, to help reduce workplace stress employers have been urged to allow flexible working as a means of improving work-life balance and mental wellbeing.

 

Read more at Workplace Savings and Benefits.

Men wanting more time for parenting must demand flexible workplaces – The Age

In Australia, it remains taken for granted that women will take primary responsibility for childcare. It is women who are overwhelmingly the stay-at-home child carers, and women who work part-time to accommodate childcare needs.

While many men might want to take on childcare responsibility there are factors that prevent them from doing so. The gender pay gap means that men often earn more than their female partners, making it more likely women who will give up work. It’s also the case that too few workplaces in Australia offer flexible work arrangements.

This lack of flexible working arrangements make it difficult for men to take on childcare responsibilities. Importantly, however, men must be active in asking for flexible work, to shift cultural expectations and make it the norm.

Read more at The Age.

Dads struggle to find work-life balance – Business Matters

Interviews with fathers who have children under school age have shown that almost two thirds feel that their work pattern does not suit their needs. A quarter say they are unhappy with their work-life balance.

Half these fathers, who represent a range of sectors and seniority levels, suggested that remote working or flexitime would help their situation. However, a similar proportion were afraid to ask for flexible working as it would demonstrate a lack of commitment. 42% felt that it would affect their career progression.

Read more at Business Matters.

 

The 24/7 Work Culture’s Toll on Families and Gender Equality – New York Times

It has often been assumed that a lack of family-friendly policies has kept many women from promotion to the highest ranks of the business world, and companies are starting to address this concern.

It may be that the lack of family-friendly policies may not be the most pressing issue. Rather the surge in hours worked by both men and women should be of primary concern as 24/7 work cultures ‘lock gender inequality in place’.

Issues of work-family conflict remain understood as primarily a woman’s problem; family-friendly policies designed to deal with work-family conflict target women and have unintended negative consequences for their careers. Yet, providing family-friend policy allows companies to focus on a narrow set of fixes and ignore more difficult questions about cultures of overwork.

Read more at the New York Times.

The Problem with Part-Time Work Is That It’s Rarely Part-Time – Harvard Business Review

Many mothers looking to return work assume part-time schedules would be an ideal solution. However, research shows that many of those working mothers on official part-time schedules work well outside the bounds of them. Researcher Laura Vanderkam points out that:

Even though the part-timers had often taken pay cuts, and risked being seen as less committed to their careers than full-time colleagues, they weren’t necessarily working that much less.

Thus, rather than shifting to part-time contracts, returning mothers should consider returning full-time but with flexible working patterns.

Read more at Harvard Business Review.

If We Want to Help Working Mothers, We Could Start With Paid Paternity Leave – XX Factor

Studies show that statutory maternity leaves and affordable childcare often have unintended consequences for women – such as reduced earnings, or discriminatory hiring practices by employers.

These negative effects should not be understood as undermining the case for such initiatives. Rather, they demonstrate that the assumption remains that childcare and other family responsibilities are the sole duty of women.

Family-friendly policy should be crafted to encourage greater uptake by both men and women, to help change the kinds of attitudes that rewards working men who become fathers and penalises women who become mothers.

Read more at XX Factor.

Why Some Men Pretend to Work 80-Hour Weeks – Harvard Business Review

Research at a global strategy consulting firm with a strong US presence found that many men are dissatisfied with the expectation that they perform the role of the ‘ideal worker’ who is fully devoted to, and available for, the job, with no personal responsibilities or interests that interfere with this commitment to work.

To deal with their dissatisfaction some men made discrete changes to still ‘pass’ as ideal workers. Others, who asked for help from managers and colleagues, often faced marginalisation in the workplace.

While attempting to covertly ‘pass’ as the ideal worker may seem preferably, this has several drawbacks: it involves deception between employers and employees; it’s a strategy that isn’t open to everyone, and; it perpetuates myths about the best workers being the ones who apparently work longest.

Read more at Harvard Business Review.

Staff think flexible working can make them seem lazy – Business Insider

A survey of 500 hiring managers and more than 1,500 professionals across Australia and New Zealand has shown what employers and employees fear most about flexible working.

For staff, the biggest concern is that they’ll be perceived as lazy (51%). This is followed by fear that flexible work will have negative impacts on their career progression (43%) and fear of resentment from co-workers (38%).

Employers are most concerned about not treated all employees equally (51%). There are also issues of trust, the following two concerns being employee abuse of flexible policies (49%) and difficulty in supervising employees who work flexibly (44%).

Read more at Business Insider.