Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Is There A Future For Work/Life Balance?

by Paige Hobey



Ever wonder how your experience of work and parenthood fits into the larger trends of today’s culture? If your daily challenges are more common than you think?


A few months ago, a group of work-life experts from around the country met at the Boston College Center for Work & Family to discuss the future of their field—and the trends we can expect to shape the way we work.


They identified four key issues that are reshaping the face of today’s workplace. Any of these sound familiar?


Pressure to Work Long Hours:

No, it doesn’t just feel like there’s pressure to work longer hours than ever before. The average U.S. workweek is at an all-time high, and 44% of

U.S. employees felt overworked in the past month, according to a study by the Families and Work Institute. Those feeling overworked reported higher stress levels (there’s a shocker) and more health concerns than their counterparts working fewer hours.


Work/life experts are proposing innovative changes to help. For example, managers could receive bonuses when their direct reports take their full vacation time. Or incentives could be awarded those who redesign processes that waste time and energy. So recognition would be provided when employees save time rather than when they put in exorbitant face time.


The Trap of Technology:


As we all know, technology is our friend—allowing us to work remotely and with more flexibility than ever before. It has already reshaped the way we work. It’s also one of the biggest challenges for today’s labor force, blurring the lines between professional and what used to be considered personal time.


On the work/life front, experts are researching the impact of constant technology-based multi-tasking and proposing ideas to help minimize burnout. On the personal front, try giving yourself dedicated technology-free times each week—when you can focus on your kids without answering phones or checking email. Radical, I know. But it’s the best advice I’ve heard for recreating those dissolving boundaries.



The Need for More Personalized Career Support and Guidance:


Ever feel like you could really use your own career counselor? Me too.


There are many ways to work these days. From part-time to job sharing, from flextime to compressed workweeks. Plus, there’s a fantastic array of benefits that can make life easier. The career paths of women today will be more complicated than those of prior generations—with phases that may vary from full-time work to time at home. Who has the energy—or expertise—to figure it all out?


Few do, but work/life professionals recognize this shift and they’re trying to help by creating tools and accessible support so more of us can feel like we have the guidance we need as our career paths evolve.


Women Power:


That’s right, the experts have finally figured it out. Women will rule the world. (Well, kind of.) Women are already more likely than men to graduate from college, work as professionals and manage teams. Work/life professionals expect the percentage of two-career households to continue to increase and more women to out-earn their partners.


How will this affect the way we work? Recruiting and retaining female talent will become a top priority—pushing innovative work/life policies that help support today’s families. Social policy and health care coverage that support extended family members will be a focus and flexibility in the workplace will become more mainstream.


It’s a paradigm shift that may take years, but we’re heading in the right direction.


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