Workers penalized for work-life balance: Survey

Repercussions include bad assignments, negative reviews
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 09/19/2011

There is a growing imbalance between what employers say about work-life balance and what they actually do, according to a survey by WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP).

The good news is 80 per cent of employers around the globe avow support for family-friendly workplaces, found the survey of 2,312 employees in Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. The bad news is they are simultaneously penalizing those who actively strive to integrate work with their lives, said Kathie Lingle, executive director of AWLP.

“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,” she said. “This conundrum can be so oppressive that some employees go underground, resorting to ‘stealth maneuvers’ for managing their personal responsibilities.”

Employee respondents reported repercussions that included:
being overtly or subtly discouraged from using flexible work and other work-life programs
receiving unfavourable job assignments
receiving negative performance reviews
receiving negative comments from supervisors
being denied a promotion.

More than one-half of the surveyed managers think the ideal employee is one who is available to meet business needs regardless of business hours, said Men and Work-Life Integration: A Global Study. Forty per cent believe the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments and nearly one-third think employees who use flexible work arrangements will not advance very far in their organization.

“While the HR department designs and administers work-life programs, it’s the managers who have to implement it,” added Rose Stanley, work-life practice leader at WorldatWork. "A culture of flexibility correlates with lower employee turnover. Specifically, those with training and experience managing employees on flexible work arrangements are much more supportive of work-life than those without that training and experience. Closing the gap between what managers believe and how they behave will make every workplace a better place to work.”

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