I’m reading about work and careers this morning, and there’s some ideas to crunch alongside my morning coffee:
– the average work week is getting longer for skilled professionals, while getting shorter and more hectic for low level staff
– our ideas of employee treatment / availability and work-life balance were shaped in an era when the portrait of an average family was very different from today’s
– productivity decreases and the disengagement of employees are a direct consequence of the lack of work life bakance
Extensive research documents that the mismatch between work and life today leads to
very high and very expensive levels of absenteeism and attrition as well as to decreases in
– mandatory overtime
– asocial hours, meaning work hours that extend into what is traditionally family or social time
– unstable schedules
– Rigid no-fault systems, where minutes late can get you docked for pay or reprimanded
– Arbitrary flexibility (meaning allowances that are not built in the system, but left at the discretion of individual bosses and supervisors)
At the other end of the spectrum are
– attitudes toward employees that hinge upon their time spent working
excellence and commitment [are measured] not only by productivity and competence, but by the number of hours logged—
that is part of the politics of time
– a certain stigma associated with flexibility in working hours
Certainly, this study, produced in the US, speaks mostly about the US, but who among us can say that they have not encountered a proliferation of the same in the Carpathian garden?
– 40 hours work weeks? I think I last had one when I was working anchor shifts at the radio in 1999 . Contractually, it’s there, but the amount and type of work have stretched the working day beyond those hours, and the evolution of technology has allowed work to insinuate itself permanently into those previously off limits times: evenings, vacations, weekends
– social roles and responsibilities for women, the schedule of public institutions, legally mandatory protection etc. have remained the same as they were when the average Romanian was working 8 to 16, or 7.30to 15.30 and could pick-up the children from school, cook a full meal, clean the house and still have time to see a movie
– Despite numerous changes, the legal platform still remains disconnected from the realities of the modern work place, with labor contracts still requiring a physical place of work, specifying the number of hours worked and even the amount of benefits such as lunch tickets that can be disbursed based on the legally established “working days” in the month. and trust me, my employees in retail were working far more than that…
Am I complaining that we work more?
Not really, although I’ve often been griping about not having time when I most needed it.
I’m just saying that others are now reaching a crisis in terms of work-life balance, and that we should be careful to avoid a similar one, by building in some flexibility in our systems and policies.