Top Ten Work-Life Blogs of 2015

2015The saying I’m leaving my job to spend more time with family may have finally gone from cliché to novel this past year, as more and more high profile men stepped away from their careers to find out what it’s like to actually have a life.

And the one guy that made the biggest work-life splash, and ended up the top blog post on Families and Work Institute’s blog this year, is also one of the funniest people around, Jon Stewart, who ditched his job, in part, for more family quality time.jon

Among the Institute’s most popular blogs were also some unexpected topics, including a post on how to make the manufacturing industry — known as rigid and implacable when it comes to work life — more flexible for employees. And a post on how same-sex and opposite-sex couples navigate responsibilities at home. The lack of paid leave for many employees in the United States also got a lot of interest from readers.

Below are the Top 10 blogs for 2015 based on pageviews:

1. Comedian’s Work-Life Joke Isn’t Funny

jon familyWhen Jon Stewart announced he’s leaving the popular cable mock newscast The Daily Show, he offered little about his plans for the future.

The only hint he provided was couched in a joke, but I suspect he wasn’t just trying to be funny.

I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people.

This past year has seen a number of high-profile, successful men giving a nod to their work-life woes as a reason for why they are leaving — or scaling back on — careers. It’s good news given that a big part of our focus at Families and Work Institute is to change the work-life conversation from a working women’s issue to an issue that impacts all of us.

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2. #Workflex in Manufacturing: Not a Fantasy

manu-job-276x183Toyota found a way to help employees on the night shift at auto assembly plants in Georgetown, Kentucky and Princeton, Indiana handle parenting responsibilities via after hours child care, and the result was little change to employees’ work schedules, but better work-life fit.

USG, a building materials producer, empowered employees by allowing them to coordinate their own break schedules and elicit line-worker input for a plan to institute shift structures at plants that work best for the location’s workforce rather than enforcing a single shift rotation schedule at all its plants.

Kraft Foods found that hourly workers in manufacturing plants were the least satisfied of all employee groups with work-life integration, so the company created a program to reinvent its vacation policies.

How do you support the work-life needs of production employees? It can be done, and these are just a few manufacturing employers doing just that.

Workflex and Manufacturing Guide: More Than a Dream is your starting place for understanding what flexibility really means for manufacturers and how to help employees succeed both on and off the job. This guide, just released and available for free download now, describes the many types of flexibility that make sense for manufacturing and will help move the workflex conversation at your organization beyond just telework and individualized schedules.

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3. Book Review: In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy

Palley_ShdaimahNow that the President has shined a spotlight on child care policy, it is incumbent on those who want to see this become a reality to read In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy (New York University Press, 2014).

The authors make a compelling case that for too long, child care has been marginalized as an issue, in part because it has been framed as a personal responsibility. To build popular support for a national child care policy, the issue has to be seen as one of middle class economics, as President Obama said in the State of the Union address.

The American Dream is, at its core, a dream about making the future better for the next generation. In other words, it’s about family. The importance of family is a defining value of American society — and all but 2% of Americans say that family is the most important or one of the most important things in their lives, according to the Pew Research Institute.

Parents across the country at every income level and from every ethnic background try every day to realize the American Dream by providing for their children. But, all too often, as headlines attest, parents are forced to choose between providing cash and care.

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4. #RethinkLeadership: Be Open About Work Life or Not?

Zuckerberg & wifeDownplaying work-life responsibilities has been the norm for many leaders because the traditional leadership model has long rewarded those men and women who put work above all else.

One of the nation’s top female corporate leaders, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, recently said publicly she wasn’t sure her two daughters would say she was a good mother. And Jon Stewart made it very clear that he hadn’t spent a lot of time with his family because of his job’s demands, joking about his decision to leave his popular cable show that: “I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people.”

Contrast this with recent news that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was expecting a baby, including a photo of the happy couple for all to see and even a personal story about their struggle with miscarriages. Clearly, Zuckerberg wants to be seen as an involved parent — something that would have been unheard of just a few years ago from the top dog of a major company.

These leaders are sending very different messages about how work and family play out in their lives as leaders to the world, and, most importantly, to their employees.

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5. Are Same-Sex Couples More Work-Life Equitable?

Cam Mitch and kidTurns out women who are in relationships with men may have something to learn from same-sex couples when it comes to how chores at home are divvied up and how much time is devoted to work outside the home.

Women in different-sex couples are less satisfied with how household responsibilities are shared at home than men in same-sex couples; this is despite the fact that women in different-sex couples work fewer hours than men and women in same-sex couples, and men in different-sex couples. And, a greater proportion of those women stayed silent about how to share those responsibilities when they moved in with their male mate than men in same-sex relationships.

That’s unfortunate news because couples who discussed work-life issues when they moved in together ended up happier with how roles at home were structured.

This is according to a study by Families and Work Institute released today titled Modern Families: Same- and Different-Sex Couples Negotiating at Home.

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6. Paid Leave for New Dads and Moms: Why Is the U.S. So Far Behind?

parents magazineFamilies and Work Institute’s senior vice president Anne Weisberg speaks with a Fox News affiliate in New York about the issue of providing paid leave for new moms and dads in the workplace.

“We are alone in the fact that we don’t pay for either maternity or paternity leave as a matter of national policy,” said Weisberg about the world’s industrialized nations during the interview.

Why should employers care?

In Family Matters, a briefing by Families and Work Institute sponsored by Care.com on the business case for investing in the transition to parenthood, we review the mounting evidence that helping new parents through this transition is good for business because it’s good for families; and we profile leading practices to inspire business leaders to take action.

One such business leader is KPMG. This year, as a result of new parents’ requests, the firm more than doubled its parental leave benefits and now provides up to 12 weeks of 100% paid short-term disability leave plus six weeks of parental leave for primary caregivers at 100% of wage replacement. As Barbara Wankoff, KPMG’s Director of Workplace Solutions explains, “We want to send a clear message to all our expectant parents: we want you back!”

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7. Global Women’s Report Shows U.S. Lagging

global womenWhat does the United States have in common with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Tonga? All these countries have no mandated paid maternity leave, according to an international report released today.

“Paid maternal leave has increased since 1995 and is now almost universal,” reports the No Ceilings initiative, marking twenty years since the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995.

The United States has not joined this universe, but there’s a strong business case for providing such benefits to working women — and men — as they transition to parenthood.

“Given the realities of life in America, most expectant parents are also employed, so how the transition to parenthood is experienced can have repercussions far beyond the baby’s first few months of life, not just for families and communities, but also for work and workplaces,” maintained Anne Weisberg, Senior Vice President for Strategy at Families and Work Institute.

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8. New Research, Changing Workplace Should Inform Paid Leave Debate

obama state union#PaidLeave is a hashtag getting a workout on Twitter in the last month with nearly 3,000 tweets mentioning it — buoyed by President Obama’s call for legislation mandating paid leave during the State of the Union address.

A variety of organizations that lobby for and against employment laws are gearing up to debate whether or not to pass such a law. Sadly, this will be a premature expenditure of energy on the wrong question.

The question that needs to be debated first is: How do we create a workplace that fosters a gainfully employed national workforce contributing to the success of their employers, communities, families and themselves?

To start exploring that bigger question requires an understanding of more than the problem — many employees lack the option of taking time from work to care for their own health or that of a family member without risking economic insecurity or job loss.

It requires a real understanding of and engagement with the causes of those problems: the changing nature of work.

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9. Creating a More Flexible Workplace

workflex-assessment-logo-280x231From office jobs to the factory floor, a more flexible work environment is something every employer should focus on if they want to attract and retain the best employees.

Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management provide a host of free resources to help you create culture change and make your workplace the most effective and flexible it can be.

If you want to improve your business, develop your workforce and transform your brand, these tools can help you think differently. And they will also help you be recognized as an effective and flexible workplace by top talent in your industry.

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10. Five Hints for What Top Employees Really Want

What do employees want? We at Families and Woeffective-workplace-model-300x317-284x300rk Institute do the research to help you answer this key question.

Here are our top five hints. They want 1) work-life fit, even on factory floors, 2) advice on how to speak with managers about flexible work options, 3) help, particularly male employees, dealing with family caregiver responsibilities, 4) companies that create effective and flexible workplaces, and 5) employers who aren’t workflex virgins.
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