09 Sep

[Did You Know?] Workaholics

Blog, Did you know? No Comments by Let's Talk Work

60 Minutes recently did a story on how we are able to work 24/7 from almost anywhere at anytime with our techie gadgets to help improve productivity. Americans are notorious for being workaholics but not necessarily the most productive. For example, the French work fewer hours, take more vacation and by some measures are more productive.

France has $36,500 GDP/Capita and works 1,453 hours per year. This equates to a GDP/Capita/Hour of $25.10. Americans have $44,150 GDP/Capita but work 1,792 hours per year. Therefore, Americans only achieve $24.60 of GDP/Capita/Hour.(1)

What countries have the most workaholics based on the percent of people who use all their annual allotted vacations? (2)

Country % who use all of allotted vacation time
1. Japan 35
2. Australia 47
3. South Africa 47
4. South Korea 53
5. United States 57
6. Canada 58
7. Brazil 59
8. India 59
9. Sweden 63
10. China 65
11. Poland 66
12. Italy 66
13. Russia 67
14. Mexico 67

(1)Business Insider – Most Productive

(2)Business Insider – Workaholics

08 Sep

Work-Life Balance Doesn’t Exist

The idea of work-life balance took an interesting turn in a New York Federal court when U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled against the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissions claims that women were unfairly discriminated against after taking a paternity leave. Bloomberg  L.P., a company in the financial sector, was accused by six plaintiffs of demoting women, decreasing duties and excluding them from increased responsibility after women took a leave of absence. After looking at 603 employees from February 2002 to March 2009, Judge Preska dismissed the case on the grounds that several women increased their pay and compensation after taking a maternity leave. While the validity of the claim was rejected due to lack of evidence, the reasoning used by Judge Preska to dismiss the case brought up several issues for women in the work place.

Judge Preska’s verdict revealed two telling quotes on the subject of work-life balance. First, she noted that “The law does not require companies to ignore or stop valuing ultimate dedication, however unhealthy that may be for family life”. She also quoted former General Electric executive Jack Welch who said “There’s no such thing as a work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences”. Both statements reveal a work over family ideal. What are the issues and questions that arise from this case?

Significant Long Terms Effects or an Overreaction?: Judge Preska’s reasoning is a blow to work-life balance by acknowledging it’s not illegal for companies to demand complete commitment from their employees, even at the expense of family life. The potential implications for pregnant women or women raising children are numerous. This creates a choice women must make between a career and a family. On the flip side, Judge Preska gave concrete evidence of several employees whose pay and benefits increased after maternity leave. As such, it’s important to separate the ruling of the case from the reasoning. While evidence in the case shows a lack of discrimination towards pregnant employees and maternity leave, the Welch quote shows a hard-line approach, creating a puzzling summary of the situation. It seems to be both a victory and a set back for work-life balance.

Technology and the Road Ahead: How does the idea of work-life balance change with the rise of the technology where people can work from any location? On first glance, working at home and being judged on productivity as opposed to hours seems to only be beneficial for this balance. But as work changes and evolves further into the 21st century, the interplay between work and life will evolve as well. An office and a home symbolize a clear separation of work and life. Yet with gadgets allowing employees to be “on” 24 hours a day, the line becomes blurred. Also, this upcoming generation of employees don’t see a job as only a paycheck, but desire something deeper within their work. They see a job as fulfillment. As such, the future may be a work-life integration, with the idea of balance inherently built into the job.

This ruling seems to be a stalemate for work-life balance – one step forward (evidence that shows maternity leave did not affect further compensation or pay), one step backwards (a culture where work can be valued over family). The seemingly diametric ideas reveals a deeper insight into a culture where employees and employers want their cake and eat it too, without any trade-off.

How do you think this ruling will affect the work-life balance?

06 Sep

Let’s Talk About Work Podcast Episode 2 | Guest: Lisa LaRocque of Intercambios

Blog, Interviews, Podcast No Comments by Mary-Frances Winters

Welcome to the second episode of the Let’s Talk About Work Podcast hosted by Mary-Frances Winters. We were happy to be joined by our guest, Lisa LaRocque of Intercambios, a bilingual, binational inter-cultural group for organizations working with health, the environment, and the community.

We discussed Lisa’s fascinating experience in diversity and inclusion inspired by the intersection of U.S. and Mexican cultures. She emphasized project adaptation and responsiveness in addition to the key issue of equity.

Podcast production services provided by Nao Media + Consulting

Let’s Talk About Work on iTunes. Enjoy, stream and download often.