Tag Archives: United States

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.

Stop Punishing the Family Man – HBR Blog

Men in the United States continue to face discrimination in the workplace for failing to maintain the appearance of the ‘ideal worker’, who is fully committed to work at the exclusion of family life. Even where they are taking pre-arranged or legally sanctioned leave, to care for a sick partner or new child, men face workplace stigma, marginalisation and even face losing their job.

Importantly, such workplace discrimination is ‘policed by men, but also, significantly, by women,’ says Joan Williams, director of the Center for WorkLife Law.

Read more at the HBR Blog.

 

Study: work-life challenges across generations – EY

A global survey, covering nearly 10,000 employees in eight countries has found that:

  • Work-life balance is harder worldwide.
  • People are quitting their jobs because of excessive overtime hours and bosses that don’t allow flexible working.
  • Being able to work flexibly and still be on track for promotion is very important.

The leading causes of work-life conflict are that while wages have remained stagnant, their responsibilities have increased.

Workers in Germany and Japan reported the highest levels of increasing work-life conflict. German parents – alongside those in the UK, India and the US – were also most likely to report difficulties in managing work-life balance versus their non-parent colleagues.

They survey also found that approximately half of managers work more than 40 hours a week, with four in 10 saying that their hours have increased in the past five years.

Read more at EY.

How the New Flexible Economy Is Making Workers’ Lives Hell – Huffington Post

US employers are increasingly using ‘just-in-time scheduling’ to meet demands. This involves using up-to-the-minute data to make staffing decisions in real-time, meaning that employers don’t need to pay anyone to be at work unless they’re needed and avoid paying wages to workers unnecessarily:

Employers assign workers tentative shifts, and then notify them a half-hour or ten minutes before the shift is scheduled to begin whether they’re actually needed. Some even require workers to check in by phone, email, or text shortly before the shift starts.

Just-in-time scheduling is one part of the US’s new ‘flexible’ economy and is lauded by business leaders for improving control over costs.

However, it can have a negative impact on employees as steady hours and predictable pay are eroded. As well as affecting individuals’ financially, it also make planning responsibilities such as childcare. ‘Just-in-time’ scheduling and other forms of flexible work ‘businesses more efficient, but it’s a nightmare for working families’.

Read more at The Huffington Post.

Why do C-suiters like Patrick Pichette get to follow their bliss while his exhausted underlings trudge on? – Quartz

After CFO of Google announced he was to quit the technology giant for a better work-life balance, this article notes that ‘most people have to figure out how to manage their lives and connect with their families while working full-time hours or longer’.

Looking at the US case, it notes that just 12% of the workforce are entitled to paid leave, including being one of only two countries surveyed by the ILO to have no statutory paid maternity leave. Moreover, it points to accounts of Google’s working culture that note long hours are the norm – encouraged by on-site gyms, food and dry cleaning – and that it has negative effects on employees.

The article questions, then, whether work-life balance, in practice, is the preserve of a privileged few who can afford to leave jobs, and suggests that attention needs to be paid to making work-life balance more achievable for everybody.

Read more at Quartz.

Flexible Work: Nice, if You Can Get It – New York Times

This article describes some of the ways in which US workers experience flexible working (or the lack thereof).

Positive accounts note that flexible hours are ‘worth their weight in gold’ and worth taking a lower paying job for. Though successful deployment and use of flexible working policies requires managers to become ‘comfortable with what productivity and accountability looks like in a telework/flexible schedule setting’.

Others, however, are more cautious. One respondent noted that because they have a flexible work schedule, between part-time and freelance work, they have become the ‘go-to parent’ for caring for a sick child, making doctors appointments et cetera, while their paid workload remains the same. The results are ‘often stressful and exhausting, especially when the two careers get busy at the same time’.

And there remain, of course, many who still have zero-flexibility in their jobs, which causes issues around maintaining a work-life balance. Many respondents noted that this still has the effect of producing families wherein work is split between one wage-earner and one caregiver.

Read more at the New York TImes.

Rethink What You “Know” About High-Achieving Women – Harvard Business Review

This article looks at the experiences of graduates from Harvard Business School’s MBA programme, to learn what they had to say about work and family and how their experiences, attitudes, and decisions might shed light on current debates about women in the workplace.

The authors found that both men and women shared similar goals and aspirations upon graduation, often citing reaching certain career levels/job titles. Today, however, family happiness, relationships, and balancing life and work, along with community service and helping others, are much more on the minds of these graduates.

However, while their goals may be equivalent across genders, this article notes that their ability to meet these aspirations has played out differently for men and women.

Among those who are employed full-time, men are more likely to “have direct reports, to hold profit-and-loss responsibility, and to be in senior management positions”. Moreover, the authors found that women are less satisfied with their careers:

Whereas about 50% to 60% of men across the three generations told us they were “extremely satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their experiences of meaningful work, professional accomplishments, opportunities for career growth, and compatibility of work and personal life, only 40% to 50% of women were similarly satisfied on the same dimensions.

This is in a context where it is ‘understood’ that women are also less work-focussed, and will ‘opt-out’ of work to assume the role of primary-caregiver for children/relatives, despite evidence that high proportion of women remain in full-time work. Indeed, most men surveyed assumed their careers would take priority over their opposite-sex spouse, and even for the women who had egalitarian career expectations, around half also assumed that they would perform most of the child care in their families.

The article concludes by suggesting that men, organisations and women need to overcome myths and assumptions about women’s attitudes towards work, and role as primary caregiver.

 

Read more at the HBR Blog.

Why U.S. Women Are Leaving Jobs Behind – New York Times

This article notes that while the United States had one of the top employment rates in the world for women, this has now fallen behind many European countries. The percentage of women in the American work force peaked in 1999, at 74% for those between 25 and 54. It has since fallen, to 69%. The article notes that while the economic downturn of recent years has eliminated many jobs, a lack of family-friendly policies also appears to have contributed to the lower rate.

Survey data shows that 61% of non-working women weren’t in employment due to family responsibilities, compared to 37% of non-working men. Of the women who identify as ‘homemakers’, and who have not looked for a job in the last year, nearly three-quarters would consider going back if a job offered flexible hours or allowed them to work from home.

Furthermore, there are different perceptions of non-working for men and women, and women’s experiences are more likely to reported positively than men. Women are more likely to say that not working has improved their romantic relationships and spend more time exercising than they once did. Men, meanwhile, report negative impacts on their romantic relationships and exercise less.

Yet, many women remain interested in working again, assuming the right prevailing conditions. Particularly important is the flexibility to avoid upending their family life. For many US women with children, the decision about whether to work involves weighing a particularly complex set of benefits and drawbacks. The issues, however, are often insurmountable as the United States has a dearth of programs and policies to support women in work, such as subsidized childcare, parental leaves and taxation of individuals instead of families, which are common in Europe.

The article argues that while the extensive benefits and employment protections granted the European workers has had economic impacts on job markets, the US approach of flexible labour markets with few benefits also has it’s costs, also: ” The free market leaves many families, particularly many women, struggling to find a solution that combines work and home life.”

Read more at the New York Times.

The Murky Boundaries of the Modern Work Day – National Journal

This article notes that for many Americans the distinction between work and personal life is blurred, and that working hours can extend well into the evening. However, around 62% of surveyed workers said replied that they work the right number of hours, while 28% said that they would, ideally, scale back.

The main complaint, the article suggests, was uncertainty about of day-to-day schedules and overall hours worked. This unpredictability makes achieving work-life balance more difficult.

Read more at National Journal.

Paternity Leave: The Rewards and the Remaining Stigma – New York Times

This article notes that fathers who opt to take paternity leave can still face workplace stigma, and it can lead to lower pay and fewer promotions. This mirrors long-standing disadvantages experienced by new mothers in the workplace.

While paternity leave can have long-lasting beneficial effects for both parent and child, taking time off work for family reasons has been shown to reduce men’s earnings, just as it reduced women’s earnings. The article further argues that there are “unwritten workplace norms” that can discourage men from taking advantage of it. Moreover, the share of US companies offering paternity leave has dropped by five percent between 2010 and 2014.

The author point out that this also has implications for women’s involvement in the workplace, as increasing men’s involvement at home is one of the best ways to bolster female participation in the workforce.

Read more at The New York Times.