Work/life research and advocacy leaders weigh in on their New Year's resolutions for American workplaces in Lisa Belkin's latest Life's Work column. The list of resolutions/recommendations she collects from the likes of Joan Williams, Penelope Trunk, Cathleen Benko, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and others includes:
- Management leaders should embrace workplace flexibility for themselves, in order to serve as examples to their employees that it is okay to request flexibility.
- Companies should make flexibility a mainstream option rather than something granted only in crises situations.
- Bosses should not expect that emails sent off-hours will be answered until the next business day.
- Companies should create a culture that expects fathers to take a 3-month paternity leave after the birth of each of their children.
- Managers should judge employees based on results and contributions rather than rank or hours worked.
We'll toast to all of these ideas, and add a few of our own (or twists on the ones suggested by the experts):
- Abolish the 'FTE'. Stop thinking of employees in terms of 40-hour chunks, and start thinking of them in terms of person-hours needed to do required tasks. Free up managers to hire people for all sorts of oddball hours and schedules without fear of losing an FTE from their budgets.
- Be creative with parental leaves. Sure, expecting new fathers to take 3 months off is a huge step toward gender equal parenting. But what if a new father could elect to take his 3 months off by reducing his schedule to 4 days per week for a full year? If his partner wasn't home to care for their baby on the day he was home, he'd become a full-fledged hands-on parent in no time and he wouldn't miss much at the office. Plus, after a year of successfully handling his work responsibilities on a 4-day work schedule, he'd be in a good position to negotiate this as a permanent schedule. Parental leave taken as a one-time chunk is helpful, but it is not the lifestyle change we speak of with ESP.
- Extend the idea of reduced hours, flexible schedules or job leaves to people in general - not just parents (or those caring for a sick or elderly relative). Everyone should be entitled to seek the work/life balance that makes him/her happy. If a single man in his twenties wants to work 30 hours a week in order to have time to improve his golf handicap, he should have equal likelihood of getting his wish as a colleague who just had a baby. Crazy huh? That's us!
As we approach the end of 2007, Amy and I are excited about all that 2008 will bring - for workplaces and employees, for ESP, for good lives for all.
Happy New Year!