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National Work And Family Month

The American work culture has changed significantly over the last 50 plus years. For starters, and maybe most significant, it’s no longer a male dominated work force. In fact, women make up about half of the total labor force in the U.S. Furthermore, close to one-half of American households have both adults working full-time jobs to make ends meet. Also, the recent recession has sparked more and more adults to go back to school.

These dramatic changes to our way of life have put a lot of stress and conflict between an individual’s work and family lives. One group’s actions and recognition of this change is why we now recognize October as National Work and Family Month.

What Does It Mean?

Thanks to WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP) we are now entering our tenth National Work and Family Month in 2013. It has been nationally recognized by members of Congress, businesses, academic institutions, work-life advocacy groups and individuals aiming to succeed at home and on the job.

Throughout the month, WorldatWork is working hard to keep the ongoing educational campaign going and point out the many beneficial effects on business outcomes that effective work-life policies offer.

National Work and Family Month is the perfect time to encourage businesses to think strategically about their flexibility and family-friendly workforce investments. Employers traditionally spend the end of the year measuring and monitoring progress achieved across operational fronts. This is an opportune time to celebrate progress and set the bar one notch higher for the coming year.

Kathie Lingle, executive director, WorldatWork's Alliance for Work Life Progress

The goal of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress is to think strategically about family-friendly policies and work-life benefits that include:

  • Workplace flexibility
  • Health and wellness
  • Dependent care
  • Community involvement
  • Organizational culture
  • Financial security
  • Paid and unpaid time off

In March of 2010, the U.S. President’s Study of American Work-Life Balance stated the following regarding work-life balance programs in the workplace:

the benefits of adopting such management practices can outweigh the costs by reducing absenteeism, lowering turnover, improving the health of workers, and increasing productivity.

U.S. President's Work-Life Balance And The Economics of Workplace Flexibility (March, 2010)

What Are You Doing?

If the President’s report isn’t enough to get you thinking about what you can do, consider the American Management Association’s report on employee turnover. Their report revealed that the loss of an employee can range from 25 percent to almost 200 percent of the lost employees annual salary when you figure in the hiring and training of a new employee. Not to mention, the lost production time, lapse in customer service, loss in employee morale and emotional stress of bringing in a new face to the culture.

Point being: a talented employee is not only tough to replace, but expensive as well.

Falling Behind

We are only ten years into this and we are making progress, but we are still far behind some of very key economic powers around the globe. A recent study of  international work-family policies compared 15 countries ranked in the World Economic Forum’s list of the 20 most competitive countries revealed the following:

  • Work-Family policies in AmericaEvery country with a low unemployment has a national legislation to ensure paid leave for new mothers that ranges from 12 weeks to one year — the U.S. does not.
  • Nine of those low-unemployment countries also provide paid leave for the father as well — the U.S. does not.
  • Eight of the low-unemployment countries provide paid leave to allow parents to handle children’s health care needs. The U.S. has the Family and Medical Leave Act provides qualified employees with 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. Unfortunately, only about half of Americans even qualify and are protected under this act.

Hopefully, this upward trend to improve work-family initiatives and raise awareness to the current needs of employees will continue to improve. Embracing flexibility and employees needs is not a bad business decision, as seen through many studies. To find out more information and see how you can participate in the National Work and Family Month check out the Alliance for Work-Life Progress site today.

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