October is National Work and Family Month , an education campaign led by WorldatWork and Alliance for Work-Life Progress to encourage employers to support initiatives that create a healthy balance between work and home life.
Employees from varied professions and industries struggle to meet the needs of both their jobs and their families, a challenge that can cause stress and dissatisfaction. In a 2008 study by the Families and Work Institute , 59 percent of fathers (up from 35 percent in 1977) and 45 percent of mothers (up from 41 percent in 1977) in dual-income families report having work and family conflicts.
Employee development programs need to address the challenges of stress and satisfaction.
What used to be considered a “women’s issue” is now being recognized as a problem for working men and women alike. Working parents want to succeed in their jobs, but they also value the flexibility to take time off to be with their children. National Work and Family Month emphasizes that organizations can improve both the quality of life and the productivity of their employees by exploring workplace flexibility—from occasional telecommuting and a condensed work week to a wellness program and a team volunteer activity.
In a speech earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama advocated improving the work-life balance for working families. She said she understood from personal experience “trying to do a good job at both — and always feeling like you’re not quite living up to either — and trying not to pit one against the other, really trying to balance.”
Obama said when she was an executive, she found employees who were given more flexibility were more productive.
“I found that as I’ve managed staff, the more flexibility and opportunities that I gave them to be good parents, the more commitment that they made to working with me, the less likely they were to leave because they wouldn’t find the same sort of situation somewhere else,” Obama said. “So this isn’t just about family balance. This is about making work places stronger and more effective, and keeping and attracting the most qualified people.”