Email, instant messaging, laptops, digital teleconferencing and flexible schedules have dramatically changed the way people live and work, as well as how their personal and professional lives intersect. But a recent national poll of 570 working Americans concludes that, despite breathtaking advances in technology and greater workplace flexibility, work-life balance is still very much a work in progress.
A Public Policy Polling survey for Workplace Options, a leading international provider of employee benefits and work-life services, finds that:
- 45% of employees report access to more flexible working arrangements compared to their first full-time job.
- 43% report an increase in work-life benefits and professional development opportunities compared to their first full-time job.
- 28% say work-life benefits available through their employer have increased in the past five years, despite the faltering economy.
“Over the span of three decades, this industry has undergone an incredible evolution,” says Dean Debnam, who has led Workplace Options as chief executive officer for most of its 30 years in business. “The conversation has shifted. Benefits are not just recruiting tools; they are programs that allow employees to be more effective. The new challenge is finding innovative and engaging ways to answer the question, ‘How can I make my employees’ lives better, and allow them to do their job more efficiently at the same time?’”
The issue of balance between personal and professional responsibilities now has a more central role in employment decisions. More than one in three survey respondents (34%) say they would consider leaving their current job in favor of one with more attractive work-life programs.
“The thoughts and trends reflected in this survey hold true around the world, not just in the U.S.,” says Debnam. “Work-life balance is a growing global conversation that’s only going to become more important in the future.”
The survey also reveals three specific areas where benefits have made significant advances:
- 27% say they now have access to more assistance programs for child care and elder care than they did at their first full-time job.
- 31% report access to more legal and financial assistance programs.
- 43% say their current employers offer more personal health and wellness programs compared to the start of their careers.
Says Debnam: “Organizations are only as effective and productive as their workforce – that's a fact that will never change.”
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