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Are Employees Penalized For Balancing Work, Family?

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DETROIT (WWJ) - A global survey reveals a growing imbalance between what employers say about work-life balance and what they actually do.

Every October since 2003, WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP) has led a national awareness campaign that promotes work-life effectiveness as a key contributor to productivity and success in the modern workplace.

Kathie Lingle, executive director of AWLP, said this year, the campaign is calling attention to a troubling gap between leaders’ beliefs and behaviors at many organizations.

“We set out to study men and work-life integration, but instead uncovered workplace trends showing employees suffer a variety of job repercussions for participating in work-life programs, even when their leaders insist they support the business value,” Lingle, said in a release. “This conundrum can be so oppressive that some employees go underground, resorting to ‘stealth maneuvers’ for managing their personal responsibilities.”

“The good news is that 80 percent of employers around the globe avow support for family-friendly workplaces. The bad news is they are simultaneously penalizing those who actively strive to integrate work with their lives,” Lingle continued.

Employee respondents reported repercussions that included:

  • Overtly or subtly discouraged from using flexible work and other work-life programs
  • Received unfavorable job assignments
  • Received negative performance reviews
  • Received negative comments from supervisor
  • Denied a promotion

The study found the following prevailing leadership attitudes:

  • More than half of the surveyed managers think the ideal employee is one that is available to meet business needs regardless of business hours
  • 40% believe the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments
  • Nearly one in three think that employees who use flexible work arrangements will not advance very far in their organization

Rose Stanley, work-life practice leader for WorldatWork, said closing the gap between what managers believe and how they behave will make every workplace a better place to work.

Access the entire survey at www.worldatwork.org.

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