Why Managers and Employees Have Different Ideas About Work/Life Balance

John Krautzel
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Every employee, manager and CEO tries to have a work-life balance that fits his or her needs. Workplace flexibility, family time and more days away from the office represent new paradigms in fringe benefits for companies seeking the best hires. A new survey finds managers and lower-level employees differ as to what is the proper balance between a professional and a personal life.

Workplace flexibility programs became a trend in 2013 when Sheryl Sandberg, bestselling author and now the COO of Facebook, admitted there is no such thing as a work-life balance. Sandberg led the charge for changes in workplace culture to allow flexible hours for working mothers who need more time away from the office to tend to family duties.

The results of Sandberg's impassioned pleas led to more workplace flexibility initiatives in small and large companies. As much as 87 percent of human resources managers surveyed by Workplace Trends claim seven of 10 employees believe the office became more satisfying after these programs were implemented. Nearly one-third of the companies surveyed spent $40,000 or more to make changes.

These beneficial programs come with caveats. Managers and lower-level employees differ as to the definition of "flexible." Up to 67 percent of HR executives surveyed in the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study believe employees strike a balance between work and life. However, 45 percent of employees and 35 percent of job seekers still want more time away from the office.

The main difficulty lies in how employees and managers achieve this balance. More time away from the office has equated to more time working from home. Managers expect their underlings to put in 60 to 80 hours of work per week, no matter where that time is spent. The key difference is that managers make more money than the people they supervise, yet managers have the same expectations of others as they place on themselves.

The reason for this nontraditional blending of work and home environments lies in mobility. Laptops, wireless connections, tablet computers and smartphones all lend to enormous amounts of work done at home, on vacation or at soccer games. These devices make employees more accessible outside of the office. This interconnectivity brings an expectation that more employees should be on call and available late at night and early in the morning.

Workplace flexibility saves money when employees enjoy better overall health, less stress and more satisfaction. As long as work gets done, no matter what time of day, firms and companies should be happy with the results.

The key to workplace flexibility programs involves communication. Employees and HR managers should maintain a constant dialogue. Every program of this nature must have a give and take to work successfully.


Photo courtesy of JD at Flickr.com



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