Tag Archives: work life balance

Today’s Frontier is NOT Technology

data point tuesday_500I’m not sure where I ran across this report from Interact Authentically, Disengagement and Separation of the Virtual Worker. But I’m glad I found it. What actually caught my eye as I was reading it, were the last two sentences:

“We cannot forget our most basic core goal in business: to create connections and relationships. Today’s frontier is not the technology required to run a global company – it is applying technology while bringing along the nurturing, engaging aspect of human communication.”

That really resonates with my work on the WorkHuman project with the Globoforce folks.

The report, published in January, analyzes a survey conducted by Harris Interactive among 2,026 adults over 17 years old in the United States. Here’s an interesting data point that may interest you: nearly two-thirds (63%) of U.S. employees report that they ever work virtually. Surprised? I was. Given the heated discussions about the lack of workplace flexibility and work/life integration, that’s a lot of people with at least some flexibility. And over two-thirds of those folks think their management needs to communicate better in order to keep them engaged.

Other findings of note:

Interact Sept 29 2015The message seems clear – flexibility to work from home isn’t enough for employees. They still need to feel the love from their bosses. In fact, working from home requires managers to do more to keep their employees feeling engaged and that they have a human, real relationship with the organization, their work, and their boss.

Certainly not rocket science. But a good reminder that the big challenge isn’t finding the right technology to enable more flexible work arrangements. The big challenge is keeping the humanity flowing when employees are isolated from their colleagues and bosses.

Here’s a thought: maybe Marissa Mayer wasn’t crazy after all!

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Data, Interact Authentically, Work Life Balance, Workflex

The Global Workplace of 2030

Data Point Tuesday

CBRE and Genesis recently released a report “Fast Forward 2030: The Future of Work and the Workplace,” which provides meaningful insight on the behaviors, ideas, and trends, that will shape work and the workplace in 2030. Their report analyzes responses from 220 experts, business leaders and young people from Asia Pacific, Europe and North America who shared their views on how the current workplace is evolving. That report’s focus was to look towards the future and identify trends that will change the way we work over the next 15 years globally, with a key focus on China and Asia. CBRE and Genesis aimed to capture the thoughts and aspirations of this next generation by holding focus groups, instead of traditional surveys or interviews, in 11 cities worldwide, where “more than 150 corporate youth between the ages of 23-29 gave their frank opinions about current work practices, and in particular, what is and isn’t working for them and more importantly how they would like this to change in the future.”

What will work look like in 2030? Through questions considering the nature of society and corporations, CBRE and Genesis ask respondents to identify what the big game changers will be for shaping the workplace between now and 2030. Major game changing trends and ideas included:

  • The Holistic Worker
  • Lean, Agile, and Authentic Corporations
  • The Sharing Economy

“The Holistic Worker” was an idea echoed many times throughout respondents’ answers. This is a trend that we’re already seeing today, probably most prominently in the increasing attention to social responsibility among organizations. CBRE and Genesis report that “The Holistic Worker” will continue to be a significant influencer of change in the workplace. Their research shows an increasing belief that work should be “joyous and more full-filling,” and that within work there should be many opportunities to make meaningful contributions to the organization as well as society. Essentially, the data show that lines between work and life are blurring. People are more and more often expecting the freedom to choose how, where, and when they work, and these attitudinal shifts are slowly, but surely, creating a major change in workplaces and societies.

In CBRE and Genesis’s report, 78% of youth indicated that happiness was as important as financial success. 70% of Korean parents felt happiness for their children was more important than educational and financial success and in Japan, young employees in the focus group echoed the same sentiments, talking about a way of work totally different than the traditional ways of their parents. They spoke to workplace flexibility, going home to spend time with family, and working at many organizations over their career. Thai participants in youth focus groups said they would be willing to be paid 20% less if they could work in vibrant environments with the freedom and choice about how and where they get work done. Workplace flexibility and the desire for CSR are global trends, and certainly not limited to western culture. With the desire for work to having meaning and purpose, quick impact will be key. CBRE and Genesis anticipate that in 2030: “most work will be broken down into small, discreet, comprehensible components. Each component will have a clear purpose and teams delivering will have significant autonomy and control, responding to the many of the desires of the holistic worker.”

Another game changer for 2030, will be the need for organizations to be lean, agile and authentic – specifically, authentic. If organizations cannot be true to their values and contribute to society beyond the bottom line, their main source of talent, the holistic worker (and by virtue, also holistic consumers) will be extremely limited. CBRE and Genesis predict that technology and “artificial intelligence” will be huge game changers for organizations that can leverage them correctly. Organizations with 20-40 people can be just an impactful as large corporations, and by leveraging technology while being “unhindered by legacy processes and mindsets,” they will easily disrupt existing corporate models. The growth of technology, while being extremely beneficial for workplaces, is also a worrisome concept. CBRE and Genesis’s report points out it’s predicted that 50% of the occupations in corporations today will not exist in 2030, and points to evidence that in the U.S technology is already destroying more jobs than it is creating:GDP vs. Employment Growth

“The Sharing Economy” was another major underlying theme in CBRE and Genesis’s research. They define this as a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources, whose emergence reflects changing attitudes in societies about ownership and collaborative consumption, fuelled by technology and apps that allow people to rapidly match supply and demand – person to person. Expert respondents in Beijing reported that the sharing economy would have significant impact to the future of work and the workplace in 2030, and used a research study by consultancy Latitude in the US71 as a framework for discussing how the sharing economy might impact real estate: Jan 27 2015 New Opps for SharingCBRE and Genesis also asked respondents about competitive advantage in 2030, and although answers covered a wide range, 10 top sources emerged, with attraction and retention of key/top talent as the number one source of competitive advantage followed by innovation. Jan 27 2015 Top 10 Sources of Competitive Advantage

When talking about innovation, respondents reported that for the future of the workplace “there will be constant innovation and support of entrepreneurial behaviors: micro-innovation within the organization”.

In several past posts I’ve discussed how the workplace is going increasingly global, yet to date most of the research in the area of work and the workplace remains from a western perspective. CBRE and Genesis’s report specifically widens the research to include not only western perspective but also those of developed and developing Asian nations, providing new and unique perspectives on a geographic level. Such perspectives can provide surprising results, such as the determination and excitement of young employees in Shanghai, Beijing and Tokyo to rethink the experience of work and push their superiors to change, vs. more conservative opinions than expected in New York and London. Youth Appetite for Change

The bottom line? The youngest cohort of our employees – worldwide – are describing their preferences for work and the “office” of the not so very distant future as radically different than most work environments today. Those organizations desirous of developing their cultures to attract and retain today’s Millennials might take these findings into account. We Baby Boomers won’t be around forever. And that’s probably a good thing.

Be sure to check out CBRE and Genesis’ full report here.

1 Comment

Filed under CBRE, China Gorman, Corporate Social Responsibility, Data Point Tuesday, Genesis, Millenials, Work Life Balance, Workplace Studies

Working Parents Feel More – Not Less – Stress

Data Point Tuesday
Bright Horizons
recently conducted a national study, “The Modern Family Index” that explores what it means to be a working parent today. The study revealed some insightful points, including that working parents still perceive that their responsibilities with their family may cause them to experience significant challenges at work. Bright Horizon’s research highlights that much has changed towards how parents approach family obligations and the level of conflict they experience. But how positive are those changes when, overall, many employees still feel like they can’t be honest with their supervisors about family responsibilities?

Perhaps the most obvious example of change toward family obligations in 2014 is that work/family balance is not only an issue for mothers. Fathers report being nearly just as stressed and insecure about work and family conflicts as mothers (46% of dads say that one of their daily stressors is child care needs during the workday, vs. 52% of moms) and are likely to be just as nervous as women to tell their bosses about some of their big family commitments (63% of men vs. 68% of women). Additionally, for fathers, work/life integration ranks just as highly as other top stressors like saving for retirement and managing personal health. Additionally, telling their bosses that they need to take time off for a family matter is just as stressful (39%) as telling a boss they’ve made a mistake on a work project (36%). When it comes to flexible scheduling, one in three fathers (34%) report asking their employers for more flexibility or modification of their work schedule to meet obligations to their children (compared to 42% of moms).

While the increased balance of family obligations between men and women represents a positive trend, it’s still concerning that working parents so highly perceive that family obligations can negatively impact their career – or actually cause them to be demoted and fired. Bright Horizons Family Means Firedreports that 60% of working parents have at least one work-related concern caused by family responsibilities, and 48% admit one of their concerns due to their family responsibilities is that they could get fired! If there’s any statistic to highlight in this report, I think it’s probably this one: nearly 50% of working parents are concerned about getting fired for having family obligations! Additionally worrisome data follow this statistic, including:

  • 39% of parents fear being denied a raise because of family responsibilities
  • 37% fear they will never get promoted again, and
  • 26% worry about a demotion because of family responsibilities.

And to make sure family obligations don’t impact work time? Parents report spending 51% of paid time off dealing with family responsibilities instead of taking a trip or relaxing at home.

Bright Horizon’s research unfortunately pulls the rug out from under the belief that discussions of work/life integration and family obligations are commonplace today. Certainly they are more common than they were in the past, but this study indicates that we might not be taking the leaps and bounds that all the headlines around work/life integration suggest. Employees today remain just as nervous bringing up key family-related issues (51%) as important work-related problems (52%) with employers, and 23% of working parents (almost a quarter) admit to lying or bending the truth to their boss about family responsibilities that get in the way of work:

  • 31% of working parents have faked being sick to meet family obligations
  • 39% admit that one of the things they would be nervous to tell their boss is that they need to miss a work event for a family commitment
  • 56% (more than half!) of working parents report that one of the topics they would hesitate to ask their boss about is reducing hours, working remotely or placing boundaries on responding to calls or emails.

This would be a good time to consider what work/life integration programs your organization offers – as well as the attitude senior management has towards employees with families. Does senior management walk the talk or are family friendly policies just lip service? Make sure working parents are aware of programs that are in place to help them balance their work and family responsibilities, and, perhaps more importantly, make sure it is emphasized that it is OKAY, and expected, that working parents utilize those programs. Creating family friendly policies in one thing. Encouraging their use and ensuring that parents’ careers are not jeopardized for using them is an entirely other thing. Where does your organization net out?

1 Comment

Filed under Bright Horizons, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Work Life Balance, Work/Life Integration

#GenMobile: State of Mind Not Function of Age

Data Point Tuesday

We’re at a turning point with mobile technology. For many users, tablets and smartphones are no longer a convenience or entertainment tool, but a necessary part of their working lives. A recent survey by Aruba Networks identifies these users as “generation mobile.” The research, conducted to take stock of mobility’s increasing prominence in people’s working lives, examines survey responses from over 5,000 members of the public across the USA, UK, France, Spain, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Several characteristics define “generation mobile,” including believing in working anytime and anywhere, and in a more connected world (from cars to clothing). And while 18-35 year olds do account for the highest mobile users, generation mobile spans all age groups.

Aruba Network’s research found that 86% of respondents owned at least two connected devices (devices with the ability to connect to the internet). Non-traditional working hours and the option of flextime were also identified as highly important values to generation mobile people. It should be noted though, that while the ability to hop on Wi-Fi and access work related materials during non-traditional work hours appeal to gen mobile, this value is not driven by laziness (45% of respondents report that they work most efficiently before 9am and after 6pm). Additionally, over half of those surveyed said they’d prefer to work from home or remotely two to three days a week than receive a 10% higher salary. This indicates that instituting flexible scheduling could not only increase productivity for employees and create a happier culture, but could be an opportunity for companies to create cost savings. Across the globe we see this move towards flexible work arrangements being reflected, with working out of office on the rise, and 37% of respondents expecting this trend to continue (with just 4.5% foreseeing a decrease).Types of Tech

How vital is your mobility? 64% of respondents report that their mobile devices make them more productive at work, and 63% (over two-thirds) think their mobile devices help them manage their lives better. Looking just at hours spent, mobile devices play a huge role in people’s daily lives: 1/3 of us spend over 1/3 of our day on these devices, and while people still value ‘disconnected’ time (63%), such devices are obviously valuable to us – I’d wager you’ve felt the sting of forgetting one of these devices before. Why, as an organization, is it important to recognize the expectations and values of this generation mobile group? Despite the fact that this group is only likely to get bigger as we continue along in this uber-connected world, as I’ve discussed in other posts, understanding the values and motivators of your employees – and conveying that you value these too, is a huge part of building a great place to work.

Employers should know that 28.9% (over a quarter of those surveyed in Aruba Network’s research), feel it is their company’s responsibility to provide them with a smartphone or a tablet. Furthermore, 29.2% report that though they would rather buy their own, they see these devices as a workplace necessity. It’s also important to note that the overwhelming majority of respondents want Wi-Fi over wired connectivity. This raises though, an important concern for employers. Organizations should make sure networks are secure and that the correct security measures are in place for employees storing company information on mobile devices.

How #genmobile is your workforce? In the quest to retain talent, do you account for these kinds of expectations? Have you spent any time thinking about how important mobile devices are to you and those around you – a little? a lot? And have you used this insight to avoid the assumption that mobile devices and the high mobility they provide are only valued by younger, millennial employees?

Turns out #GenMobile is a state of mind, not a function of age.

2 Comments

Filed under Aruba Netoworks, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Mobile Devices, Work Life Balance, Workflex

The Stress Test: Most Employers Fail

Data Point Tuesday
We all know that a stressful work environment can impact employees’ mental, physical, and emotional health, as well as impact their engagement and productivity, but a new study from Monster reveals just how many employees are saying no to “sticking it out” in stressful work environments, and seeking jobs elsewhere. Monster’s international “Workplace Stress” study surveyed nearly 1,000 job seekers on the Monster database via an online survey which ran from March 12, 2014 to March 18, 2014. The study revealed that 42% of US respondents have left a job due to an overly stressful environment, these respondents stating: “I have purposely changed jobs due to a stressful work environment.” An additional 35% have contemplated changing jobs due to a stressful work environment. 42% of people have purposely changed jobs because of stress! This seems like a frightening number of people and begs the question, what are U.S organizations doing to change such work environments? Monster’s study reports that 55% of their respondents experience very stressful lives, and 57% of people experience very stressful work environments –more than half of respondents. Comparably, only 3% of respondents report experiencing no stress in their work life.

On the international front, employees in France and the UK experience the most workplace stress, with 48% (a 6% increase from US respondents) reporting that they have left a job due to stress. Employees in India are least likely to leave a job due to stress, with only 19% of respondents reporting that they have ever left a job because it was too stressful.

What exactly is stressing out the workforce? Monster’s study found that the most commonly reported workplace stressors are: supervisor relationship (40%), amount of work (39%), work-life balance (34%), and coworker relationships (31%). The study also found that the 84% of respondents claim that their stressful job has impacted their personal lives, with 26% reporting sleepless nights, 24% reporting depression, 21% reporting family or relationship issues, and 19% reporting physical ailments. When respondents were asked what their office does to help alleviate stress in the workplace, 13% reported “extra time-off”, 11% reported the “ability to work from home”, and dishearteningly, 66% answered “nothing.”

Monster Job Changes Due to Stress
While many of the figures in this study may seem shockingly high, when we consider all the data that surrounds us about the amount of work/life balance challenges American’s face, the high percentage of workers leaving jobs due to stress makes a little more sense. However, though it might make more sense, it doesn’t mean pushing employees to their limits, and fostering stressful work environments, is right. In fact, at Great Place to Work we have 20 years of data proving that fostering a transparent, safe, and fun workplace culture creates an incredibly more satisfying and productive environment than a high-stress/high pressure one. Check it out!

4 Comments

Filed under Change, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Employment Data, Great Place to Work, Great Place to Work Institute, Leadership, Monster, Stess, Turnover, Work Life Balance

Work-Life Balance is a Myth

Data Point Tuesday
According to the 2013 Better Life Index by OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development) we’re still fighting the battle to find balance between work and our personal lives. Out of the 36 countries ranked on the 2013 Better Life Index the United States came in at 28 for work-life balance, behind almost all the countries in Europe as well as Brazil, New Zealand, and Canada. Australia fell just behind the U.S at 29. The top three countries for work like balance were Denmark at #1, the Netherlands at #2, and Norway at #3. What’s the reason for the U.S ranking so poorly when it came to work-life balance? Perhaps the most obvious factor is one we are probably very familiar with hearing about – American’s work long hours! According to the Index, 11.13% of employees work “very long hours” each week, or fifty plus hours on average. This percentage has held fairly steady since 2004 save a minute decrease (the study ranks the average annual increase since 2004 at -0.4%). For comparison purposes, approximately 9.7% of people in all other countries reported working “very long hours” and in Denmark the percentage of employees working very long hours each week was only 1.97%.

There are other influencers to the United States’ ranking when it comes to work-life balance. Gender roles still heavily influence the distribution of tasks within the family, with women spending an average of 4.3 hours a day on domestic work where men spend only 2.2 hours a day. Additionally, Americans devote less time to leisure and personal care than the OECD average; likely due to the simple fact that the more people work the less time they have to spend on other activities. Sadly, the U.S is the only OECD country without a national paid parental leave policy. The study explains that though total public spending on child welfare and education in the U.S is above the OECD average, most of this money is spent later in a child’s life (on public compulsory education). This reflects that early investment in childcare and support for families during and after pregnancy could have a greater focus. Though increasing parental leave policies would raise employers’ costs, evidence shows that women who take the full leave they are offered are more likely to return to work than women who do not, an incentive for employers to increase leave policies. OECD reports that female employment in the U.S has been falling over the last decade, despite the U.S having better career opportunities for women than most other OECD countries.

Overall, compared to most other countries on the 2013 Better Life Index, Americans work longer hours, spend less time on leisure and personal care, and take less vacation days. How’s that working for your business? How’s that working for you?

Work Life Balance

1 Comment

Filed under Better Life Index, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, Work Life Balance, Workflex