Work/Life Balance Steady
by Jared Shelly | HRE Online June 04, 2008
The uncertain economy hasn't negatively affected work/life balance policies on the whole, according to a recent study. But not all of the news is positive. Paid-time off for maternity leave has decreased and some of HR's focus has shifted from work/life to wellness initiatives.
Although the United States is in the midst of an economic downturn, the frequency of policies that promote work/life balance has not only held steady, but increased in certain aspects, according to the 2008 National Study of Employers.
The survey, released May 21 by the Families and Work Institute, of 1,100 companies with 50 or more employees located throughout the United States found, for example, that 79 percent of employers now allow at least some employees to periodically change their arrival and departure times, up from 68 percent in 1998.
Providing access to elder care increased from 23 percent to 39 percent, and employee-assistance programs rose from 56 percent to 65 percent.
Ellen Galinsky, president and founder of the New York-based Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit research organization, says that even through rocky times, employers understand the importance of promoting work/life balance.
"They're seeing things like flexibility, caregiving leaves, child- and elder-care assistance, and health and economic security as ways to retain employees, which is important to do in good times and bad," says Galinsky. "That's different because, in the past, employers have tended to see these more as soft issues or perks for valued employees."
Over the past 10 years, there was no reduction in the maximum length of caregiving leaves offered to new mothers and fathers following childbirth or to employees caring for seriously ill family members, according to the study.
"The fact that there hasn't been a change in a difficult [economic] time indicates to me that these [policies] are becoming more...
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