Is the 21st century workplace meeting the need of the 21st century worker?

At any given time more than 21% of the workforce is now dealing with some kind of caregiving situation (and that is just in elder care alone).

  • 53% of caregivers admit that their job performance is negatively affected
  • 84% make caregiving related phone calls during business hours
  • 68% arrive late or leave early
  • 67% take time off from work during the day

My husband, when taking care of his mom who had Alzheimer’s, had to leave his full-time job to move in with her and become her full-time caregiver.

What does this mean for employers and employees in this current economic crisis especially when we are seeing mass layoffs and the remainder of employees taking up the slack by adding more hours and responsibility to their already full plate?

Studies show both women and men are facing the demands from work, child care and elderly parent care demands, and retirement demands. How does the 21st century workplace meet the changing needs of the 21st century workforce?

Enter “work/life/flex”……where the legal definition of this term includes programs or work arrangements wherein employees are given greater scheduling freedom in how they fulfill the obligations of their positions. The most commonplace of these programs is flextime, which gives workers far greater leeway in terms of the time when they begin and end work, provided they put in the total number of hours required by the employer. Other common flexible working arrangements involve telecommuting, job-sharing, and compressed work weeks.

Flexible working situations are important not only for employees, but also for employers – because the companies that provide flexible workplaces that address the needs of this changing workforce are the companies that will stay productive, competitive and profitable in the 21st century.

These are the findings of a new report issued by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, and this is the reason why the White House Council on Women Girls hosted a path-breaking forum last April 2010 addressing Workplace Flexibility.

The White House Workplace Flexibility Forum brought together a diverse, accomplished group—from academia, labor, government, media, non-profits, and business—to focus on this issue and its implementation at all levels in both the public and private sector.

Workplace flexibility affects both men and women alike.  And now, as we consider how to build a more sustainable and successful economic future, a conversation about this issue has never been more important for America’s workers and their employers.  To underscore the importance of this issue to the Administration, both the First Lady and the President of the United States addressed the participants at the Forum (see video here):

When employees are given more time to be better parents and to take care of their own aging parents it is proven that they become better workers.  They stay in their jobs longer and are more productive.  This notion may seem contradictory, but it is a finding that is echoed by many of our country’s leading businesses.

President Obama wrapped up the program last April with remarks reinforcing his administration’s commitment to this issue—not just as a “women’s issue,” but as an issue that affects the well-being of our families, the success of our businesses, and the future of our nation’s economy. He praised the business representatives who have embraced workplace flexibility, and put them on notice that the government will be creating the working conditions necessary to compete with them for the best and brightest talent available.  By doing so, the President pledged to support an improvement in flexibility for federal employees and, thus, an overall improvement in service to the American people.

What are your thoughts concerning work/life/flex issues and /or programs you or your company have put into place regarding these changing needs within the workplace?


President Council of Economic Advisors

Another great post on this topic:

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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1 Response to Is the 21st century workplace meeting the need of the 21st century worker?

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