Timesizing® Associates - Homepage
Timesizing News, June 1-15, 2004
[Commentary] ©2004 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080
6/15/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/14 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #3 & 4 which are from the 6/15 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
6/12-14/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/11-13 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Germany's Lufthansa has agreed a framework with its trade union making working times and pay talks more flexible to cut labor costs, sources close to the talks said on Monday, Reuters via Airwise News.
Lufthansa representatives and the Verdi union signed the framework agreement on Friday night and aim to translate it into a full wage contract by August 15, the sources said.
"That's the basis on which we are negotiating now," one source close to the union said. "Of course, the devil is still in the detail."
Under the deal, 40,000 German ground staff would still work 37.5 hours per week, throwing out plans by Lufthansa Chief Executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber to increase the working week to 40 hours.
But the 37.5 hours per week would be averaged out over 18 months, allowing for individual longer working weeks without costly overtime payments, the sources said. Under the current regime, overtime has to be paid every week in which working time exceeds 37.5 hours.
The agreement also aims for a new tariff structure under which separate Lufthansa business units would be able to reach their own pay deals rather than be bound by a single deal for the group, they said.
Lufthansa confirmed it was in talks with the union but declined to be drawn on the framework agreement.
- Workers want more balance: ACTU, Special Broadcasting Service [Australia].
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) says a new survey shows workers want a more flexible workplace to help balance their family and work commitments.
The survey, conducted by Newspoll for the ACTU, found workers do not regard the Federal Government's recent increases in family payments as most useful for managing work and family commitments.
The survey also found men want time off for family emergencies, while women want more flexible working hours.
The ACTU's Industrial Officer, Cath Bowtell, says the survey shows workers are finding it difficult to combine their work and family lives.
"The pointy end of the work/family balance is constantly running late because you've just done the school drop-off or constantly feeeling that you're not going to make it to the creche to pick up the kids, or constantly feeling that you're going to be in trouble at work if you ask for time off to take your mum, who's just broke her hip, to hospital. At the moment, the needs of the business are the sole criteria driving how work is organised and that means that employees and their families are the ones who bear the full brunt of the work/family clash," she says.
- [Employees rightly reject reverse-timesizing.]
Parts plant closing sought, AP via NYT, C10.
DETROIT, Mich. - The Federal-Mogul Corp. said on Monday that it would seek to close an auto bearings plant in southwestern Michigan after workers rejected a contract that would have cut their wages, vacations, and health benefits.
The company [ie: the CEO] has been seeking $5.35-5.5m in wage and benefit concessions in exchange for keeping the plant open and preserving its 310 jobs.
[Let the CEO start with concessions on his own wages and benefits. Without that, he's just part of The Great Leak Upward.]
On Sunday, members of United Automobile Workers Local 2017 rejected the 'deal.' [our quotes]
The company, which is based in Southfield, Mich., filed for bankruptcy protection in October 2001 (10/02/2001 #2).
- How not to spend your next, or first, honeymoon - The ins and outs of taking your spouse with you when you hit the road on work, by Francine Parnes, NYT, C11.
An increasing number of executives are squeezing family time into their travels by taking their spouse along. It's a way to program a little R&R into jam-packed schedules, but it can also backfire if they [presumably the executives] do not strike the right balance between business and pleasure.
"If you take your spouse on a business trip, you'll be either glad or sorry," said Paul Moglia, a clinical psychologist in Yonkers....
[Duh. This is the kind of dumb utterance that gives psychologists a bad name.]
6/11/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/10 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1 exclusive & 2 which is from the 6/11 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- 6/11 Making room for employees' lives, by Michael Chandler, The Salt Lake Tribune.
SALT LAKE CITY, USA - ...Salt Lake City is one of eight cities to be included in a national initiative to highlight the importance of flexibility in the workplace..\.. The Salt Lake Chamber [of Commerce]...has identified flexibility as a key issue for maintaining business competitiveness.
As baby boomers head toward retirement age, "flexibility is going to help businesses meet a critical work-force need," says Beth Buehlmann, executive director of the Center for Workforce Preparation, a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Workplace flexibility can include anything from enabling employees to take breaks when they want to during the day, to letting them decide their own schedules, or even work at home if it's more convenient.
Other Salt Lake City businesses are finding ways to use flexibility to recruit new employees.
The key is letting employees figure out what works best for them, some employers say.
- ARUP Blood Services was having trouble retaining staff for its blood testing labs, which stay open 24 hours a day. The company finally initiated a job-sharing system, where employees partner up and alternate workweeks. One employee works 10-hour shifts for seven days, then switches off the next week.
[This averages out to a 35-hour workweek. Or would it be easier to work early or late 5-hour shifts continuously?]
"Every other week is a vacation," says Linda Ivie, a recruiter at ARUP. This was a huge incentive for new recruits and the company's turnover rate dropped significantly.
"Let individuals have control of the workplace, and they will find their own balance," says Pollyanna Pixton, president of Evolutionary Systems, a business consulting firm. Pixton says employees and employers should work together to determine what needs to be accomplished, then employees should have the freedom to figure out the best way to get the work done.
"The idea that if you're not there with your cup of coffee at 8 a.m., you're not productive," doesn't make sense to Lizzie Barlow, a newcomer to the business world who works in business development for the Salt Lake Chamber.
"I'm different," Barlow says. "I'm from a different generation . . . I know I could be more productive, if I could make my own pattern."
- 6/13 Extra work sours workers, by Chuck Martin, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
USA - The world of work has changed, and there are no signs that it will ever go back to the way it was, say, a decade ago.
Based on surveys of 2,000 executives and managers by NFI Research during the past year, there are indications that organizations will be dealing with a host of new management issues, including two primary issues that could dilute the talent pool if businesses don't take positive action.
One reason for this shorter viewpoint is the change in loyalty, both on the part of the employers as well as the employees. But another reason is the sheer workload that many have had to assume during the corporate belt-tightening of the past few years.
- On one hand, business leaders are optimistic about their business futures, with many planning to increase the number of employees this year. On the other hand, employee morale has dropped significantly from two years ago, and many managers feel overworked and undervalued.
- While 81% of executives and managers say they believe the economy will regain strength this year, the amount of time executives and managers plan to stay with their organizations is changing, with the majority now planning to stay years rather than decades.
For executives and managers, the 40-hour workweek is long gone, with
And of that extended workday, the majority of managers have less than an hour of personal time.
- 93% of them working 9 or more hours a day,
- and 70% working 10 or more hours.
Many of those same managers find themselves working at home and on nights and weekends. 61% say the amount of time they have spent working out of the office has increased in the past three years.
It is that extra workload that upsets many. While many companies either downsized or kept workforces steady, the amount of work increased.
The economy played a significant role in this, as more companies competed for less business.
[more to the point, as more jobseekers competed for fewer still-unautomated jobs.]
During difficult times, fear of losing a job can drive day-to-day attitudes and actions. As business and the economy improve, opportunities and the prospects of greener pastures could drive those attitudes and actions.
The leaders of organizations should step up and clearly communicate not just the game plan for the future of the business but also the plan for the future of the people who held that business together during tough times.
[Don't count on it. Automation is still pouring into the economy and CEOs are still downsizing in response to it instead of timesizing. And since downsizing the workforce also downsizes the consumer base, business and the economy are not going to improve either, just have little upticks in a downward spiral - upticks that are amplified by the media while they minimize or ignore ("externalize") vast downsweeps.]
- 6/11 Siemens plans to raise work hours for more employees, Die Welt says, Bloomberg.com.
[pronounced "dee velt" and meaning "the world"]
GERMANY - Siemens AG, Germany's largest employer, plans to increase work hours for an additional 19,000 employees to boost profitability, German daily Die Welt said, citing IG Metall union representative Werner Neugebauer.
The Munich-based engineering and electronics company wants to expand work hours to as much as 36.9 hours per week from 35 hours for service and sales staff without additional pay, the newspaper said, citing Neugebauer. Siemens already has such an agreement with its building technology unit, Die Welt said.
Siemens wants to introduce a 40-hour week or reduce benefits such as Christmas and vacation bonuses to save about 3,700 of the 5,000 jobs it said it would otherwise have to cut, according to the report. The company signaled during talks on June 2 it was ready to make concessions to union members, Die Welt said.
[This is nonsense. Siemens' CEO is just using the threat of moving 3700-5000 jobs to lower labor-standard areas in eastern Germany, eastern Europe and Asia in order to frighten its employees, maintain and worsen Deutschland's already high unemployment aka surplus-labor situation, and further weaken its home consumer markets in western Germany. The IG Metall union is worse than useless unless it pulls all employees out on strike to get top management refocused on cutting their own wastefully high executive compensation. And then the union should push for tariffs and trade policies that control access to Germany's rich consumer markets based on the principle that "companies only get to access our consumers to the extent that they support them with quality employment." Can't do this in the EU? Pull out of the EU. What good is it if it can't protect high European living standards? These CEOs are a lot like Bush - they talk a lot about sacrifice but only for others, never for themselves.]
- 6/12 Overtime seen as factor in suicides related to work, Japan Times.
JAPAN - More than half of the 51 workers recognized as having committed suicide due to work-related stress between fiscal 1999 and fiscal 2002 had been doing at least 100 hours of overtime a month, according to a report by a government research team.
"Long periods of overtime work may be linked to mental illnesses," said Nobuo Kuroki, assistant professor at Toho University's Sakura hospital, who heads the team formed by the Health, Labor & Welfare Ministry.
- 27 of the 51 people had been working [100 hours or more] before their suicides,
[at 4.333 weeks per month, 100 hours a month averages out to 23 overtime hours a week, or a workweek of 63 hours total based on a standard workweek of 40 hours]
- 6 had done 80 to 99 hours,
- 11 had done 45 to 79 hours,
- and 7 had done 44 hours or less, it says.
"Companies should give consideration to the mental health of employees."
The 51 workers are those whose suicides were officially identified as attributable to work-related mental illnesses....
[This is presumably a kind of "karoshi" = death due to overwork.]
6/13 How to build a case for flexible hours - Asking for flex time as a productivity booster, not as a favor, by Cheryl Dahle, NYT, 3:11.
[This is the way we should be approaching shorter hours, an agenda that really gets us somewhere in terms of market power, instead of wasting so much time pursuing the shell game of flexible hours.]
6/10/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/09 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #1, 2 which are from the 6/10 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Shorter hours conference holds opening reception Thursday eve, exclusive to Timesizing.com.
CHICAGO, Ill. - At an opening reception on Thursday evening at Loyola University's Crown Center, the first shorter-hours conference in the USA in several years got rolling, with welcoming handshakes and hugs from Yoda-like organizer John de Graaf of Seattle PBS (Take Back Your Time Day) and his indefatigable sidekick, the elfin-like and gamine Gretchen Burger (but watch out, she takes boxing lessons!).
It's where the "stars" of the embryonic American movement came to meet and greet. Phil Hyde of Timesizing.com had taken his heart in his hand and flown out that afternoon from the East Coast on famed 9/11-target United Air. He was greatly envious of his fellow Somerville MA worktime-cutter Barbara Brandt who had come out in style with friend Walter Ness on Amtrak starting the day before, enjoying oldtime luxury in the dining and sleeping cars.
Hyde was able to meet for the first time some of the "greats" from the West Coast, starting with Tom Walker of British Columbia (Work Less Party) and later, webmaster Robert Bernstein of California. Friend Ben Hunnicutt ("Work Without End") drove up from Iowa, but Anders Hayden ("Sharing the Work, Sparing the Planet") sent last-minute regrets from Toronto because of a family emergency.
Hyde had brought out six copies of his Timesizing, Not Downsizing and three copies apiece of Football of Time and Defining Time, but when one copy of each vanished from a table where it was all too unclear they were for sale, not sampling, he decided to reserve the rest as gifts.
- [lack of front-end limits on worklife -]
Children labor behind closed doors, AP via NYT, A6.
An estimated 10 million children worldwide are forced to work in slave-like conditions as domestic servants in private homes, the UN's International Labor Organization [ILO] said in a new report. The ILO said that in parts of Africa, Central America and Asia, thousands of girls as young as 8 work 15 or more hours a day, 7 days a week, for little or no pay. The child workers - employed in homes where having servants is a sign of social status - are subjected to verbal, physical, emotional and, in some cases, sexual abuse, the study found.
The report is available at ILO.org.
- The report said South Africa had the highest number of children working as servants, 2 million.
- Other countries with high numbers of working children were Indonesia, with 700,000;
- Brazil, with 559,000;
- and Pakistan, with 264,000.
- Some find faults in law - Critics of changes in overtime pay say it may hurt workers, by Richard Craver, WinstonSalem Journal.
Proposed changes to the nation's overtime-pay regulations could affect the eligibility status of thousands of Triad[?] residents, employment officials said yesterday.
The first change to the Fair Labor Standards Act since 1975 will go into effect Aug. 23 unless Congress acts to block the new regulations. Most blue-collar workers are unaffected by the new regulations.
The U.S. Labor Department said that as many as 6.7 million Americans could be eligible for overtime pay with the new regulations, including employees who make less than $455 a week. Currently, employees with managerial responsibilities could make as little as $155 a week and still be exempt from overtime pay.
Some labor groups and analysts said that the new regulations could exempt as many as 5 million Americans who earn overtime pay compared with the 644,000 estimated by the department. Most of the jobs require advance levels of education and training before they are considered eligible for overtime exemption.
Among the jobs potentially affected by the new regulations are executives, high-level administrative employees, nurses, dental hygienists, accountants, chefs, journalists, athletic trainers, funeral-home embalmers, computer experts and outside sales representatives.
Lawyers with Smith Moore LLP said at a seminar in Greensboro yesterday that the new regulations help clarify who is exempted from overtime pay. They also said that employers should establish "safe-harbor" policies for handling such issues as how to deduct pay in disciplinary cases involving salaried employees.
The lawyers said that there's little beyond the ebb and flow of the business cycle to prevent employers from trying to squeeze out more productivity gains from workers newly exempted from overtime pay.
"If enough good employees burn out and leave or leave for another job in the same field, employers will likely reconsider their work requirements to avoid absorbing additional training costs," said Denise Cline, a lawyer in the firm's labor and employment practice division in Raleigh.
A report by the Economic Policy Institute, a research group based in Washington, warned of concerns that newly exempted employees would fear being stuck without a job, especially during a tight economy, and feel compelled to work the extra hours without pay.
"All in all, the rule means longer hours and less pay for millions of workers - and more litigation for our entire economy," the report stated.
Dan Lynch, the senior vice president for the Greensboro Economic Development Partnership, said that employers who abuse the new overtime-pay regulations will be making a major mistake.
"Employees may put up with the extra hours in the short term, and people who have no recourse in the longer term," Lynch said. "But it would be suicidal to build up a disgruntled work force, especially among people who would be classified as exempt under the new regulations.
"Those people would be attractive candidates for other employers in the same field, and it would be expensive to train their replacements and recoup the loss of their experience," Lynch said.
Andy James, a spokesman with the N.C. Employment Security Commission, said that being classified as exempt from overtime pay could compel some workers to leave their jobs.
"Employees have to be careful to think their decision through carefully because they may not be eligible for unemployment benefits if they quit their job," James said.
6/09/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/08 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- New requirement for med students: Dealing with patients, by Amir Efrati, WSJ, B1.
Starting Monday, the nation's 16,000 medical-school graduates in the class of 2005 will be tested on a skill that doctors are often criticized for lacking: their bedside manner....
[Their bedside manner would be a lot better if they didn't still have 18th-century working hours in terms of workweeks that have recently been reduced to 80 hours (from 100-120!).]
- [Here's something that indirectly impacts worktime per person thru the 'gearbox' of workshifts. Generally, Timesizing requires tighter worktime per person and looser worktime per job, with the two harmonized by shift management.]
German court upholds curbs on shopping hours, Dow Jones via WSJ, A10.
BERLIN - Germany's highest court upheld the country's shopping-hour restrictions, and said it's up to the country's 16 state governments, not the federal government, to legislate far-reaching changes in shopping hours on weekdays.... Currently stores are generally obliged to close by 8 pm and to stay shut all day Sunday..\..
The Federal Constitutional Court rejected a complain by store chain Kaufhof, a unit of retail giant Metro AG, which had asked for the restrictions to be lifted.... In its complaint, Kaufhof had said the law on shopping hours, which dates to 1956, is violating the freedom of labor [ha! - they mean the freedom of management of course] and offers an unfair advantage to some shops - such as those at airports and gas stations - that enjoy exemptions.
The court ruled unanimously that the ban on stores opening on Sundays and public holidays is constitutional. A law to allow the government to set weekday closing hours at 8pm also remained intact.
Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement faced fierce opposition from trade unions when he called in April for more shopping-hour flexibility to help to help boost depressed consumer sentiment.
[What a moron! He'll search everywhere for a reason consumer sentiment is depressed instead of the factor that's glaring him in the face = he's talking about cutting employment and wages and benefits. Politicians and near-sighted employers (not all employers are so dumm) are forever failing to connect the dots between employment and consumption. They want a free ride = robust consumer markets with shrinking employment and "labor costs" = wages, so they can continue to waste the national income by consolidating it without limit in the top brackets.]
Following the court ruling, a spokeswoman for Mr. Clement [alias Herr Klement?] said that he wants a commission consisting of federal and local government representatives to debate the possible change of weekday shopping-hour limits.
[Well, maybe the slap in the face he and Schroeder received in midterm elections recently will dampen his enthusiasm for fixing something that apparently works for most Germans.]
Private consumption has been the Achilles' heel of Europe's largest economy [and Asia's largest, Japan, and world's largest, USA] which has stagnated for the past 3 years. The current recovery in economic growth has been driven mainly by foreign demand, while consumption has remained weak.
[Better than driving it by wars of choice, arms sales and astronomical government deficit-spending.]
- More employees working overtime, Ferret [Australia].
AUSTRALIA - The number of employees who work overtime on a regular basis increased to almost three million in November 2003, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
This is an increase from 33% of all employees in November 2000 to 37% in November 2003. Of those employees who regularly worked overtime 38% (1,132,700) were paid for it, 21% (628,500) had overtime included in their salary package, and 33% (985,900) were not paid for the overtime.
Men were more likely than women to work overtime on a regular basis (44% compared to 29%). The occupation groups “managers and administrators” (63%) and “professionals” (51%) had the highest proportions of employees working overtime on a regular basis.
The study found 34% of employees did not have fixed work start and finish times and 41% were able to work extra hours in order to take time off. 70% of employees could choose when holidays were taken, 20% were entitled to a rostered day off, and 14% had worked shift work in the last four weeks.
6/08/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/07 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Companies, slowly, begin to bend, by Stacy Teicher, Christian Science Monitor via Tacoma [WA] News.
There is a world in which showing up in person for a meeting is now the exception instead of the rule. A world where people can reach "partner" status at work and still be home to greet their children after school. A world where even single professionals without kids can choose to work part time.
It's called the flexible workplace - a frontier where work and the rest of one's life find a happy equilibrium.
Like any frontier, many people dream about it from a distance. And the ones who make it there often have to clear obstacles and make up new rules along the way.
Nevertheless, the American workplace is making progress in flexibility. In the process, employers are addressing a top concern among workers at a critical time in the economic cycle. If the job picture continues to improve, good employees will again be in short supply, forcing companies to find creative ways to attract and keep them. Addressing the work-life balance is one way employers are doing that.
Of course, as with any cultural change, progress is slow. "Sometimes companies need to have a personal experience to change the mind-set of presence (at work) equals productivity," says Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families & Work Institute in New York. The institute's recent report, "When Work Works," highlights improvements in access to flexible work options - such as reduced workweeks, telecommuting from home, and long leaves of absence. But it also shows the gap between people's
needs or desires and the reality of their work life. For example: The study found that 79% of workers say they would like to have more flexibility. But 39% fear they would jeopardize their jobs or career advancement by using flexible work options.
That is why the institute and others are pushing employers to follow the pioneers of genuine flexibility - something that goes beyond marginal programs with a "mommy track" reputation. Congress is considering how better to help working families with the web of demands they face. Foundations are setting up workplace-flexibility awards.
Advocates never stray far from making the business case for flex time: Work-life balance is the top priority for 86% of employees, according to a study last year by Spherion, a recruiting and consulting firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Turnover is expensive, and businesses need to prepare for an impending war for talent. Jobs are projected to outnumber workers by nearly 7 million in the coming decade, according to the Employment Policy Foundation in Washington.
While some companies have reduced flex benefits in recent years in the name of tight budgets, others warn that's shortsighted. "Looking at demographics ... a smart business person sees it's necessary," says Jim Wall, national managing director for human resources at Deloitte & Touche in New York. "If you have to drag some people kicking and screaming, so be it.... The old days are forever gone.... What we've seen with the high-talent market is, they'll leave for a place that is flexible."
The light bulb went on for Wall's company in the early 1990s, when managers realized how many people, especially women, were walking out the door because of a rigidity that their life circumstances could no longer bear. Even though women had been half the new hires for years, there were only seven of them in a group of 100 candidates for partner in 1992. A year-long task force helped the company emphasize "a holistic view of the life of the staff" and the need to shift away from the idea that face time equals productivity, Wall says. Now about 35% of partner candidates are women. About 2,000 employees
(out of 30,000) are on reduced work schedules, and even 30 to 35 partners have flexible work arrangements. Turnover is down to 17% from 28% a decade ago.
Deloitte's conversion also sped up after its offices were destroyed by the hijacked planes on 9/11. Thanks to technology - and flexibility - the company was back serving clients within 24 hours. It became even clearer that employees' effectiveness was not so dependent on place.
Molly Hufton heard about Deloitte & Touche's efforts to retain women by offering more flexibility early in her career there. "I thought it would be all talk," she says. Now, nearly 10 years later, she's a believer. Three days a week she goes to the office in Chicago. For the other two she's at home with her infant and her 2-1/2 year old, occasionally taking business calls when they nap.
The biggest challenge, says the self-labeled type-A personality, is making sure she doesn't work much more than the 60% time she's arranged. But the real test of her boss's support came within the first six months of her part-time arrangement. Her day care shut down temporarily, and with no extended family in the area, she had to spend five weeks working from home. "I thought they'd say, 'Forget it!'" she says, but they gave her backup and told her to do whatever she needed to do. "If Deloitte wasn't as flexible, I would have quit," Hufton says. Instead, she's been promoted to senior manager.
Stories such as Hufton's are promising, but far from universal. More than half of wage and salary workers don't have options such as working part time, or choosing the time they start work in the morning.
One major concern is a lack of "onramps" for those who take time out to raise children and then want to reenter their careers. "Despite all the work-life happy talk in organizations, women are often penalized," says Barbara Moses, a career consultant and author in Canada. "I've seen them do all the right things - keep their skills up to date, stay in touch with their employer - and still, three years later they're having trouble kick-starting their careers."
In response, some companies are offering longer leaves of absence and creating more ways for people to stay up to speed while they're away. But they're careful not to suggest that these and other flex options are only for mothers.
"We found that women were more vocal about flexibility, but men use it. It doesn't even matter if you're single or married - people are taking advantage of it in all walks of life," says Jim Sinocchi, director of diversity communications for IBM, which offers an array of flexible work options and helped fund the Family and Work Institute's study.
Elder care is a prime example of employees' demands at home. Twenty-one% of households have one person who cared for an aging individual in the past year, and of those caregivers, 59% were working at the same time, according to the Work & Family Program of the New America Foundation, a public-policy institute in Washington.
And as baby boomers reach traditional retirement age, more employers are looking for ways to keep them engaged, even if only part time.
Then there are infinite individual reasons. "Sometimes people are just bored," says Moses, citing the example of a 48-year-old male executive who had "plateaued" and decided to spend a year taking art history and language classes in France.
Part-time success For Peter Anderson, a single professional in Orlando, Fla., balancing all his activities became a priority in the early 1990s. Between work, church commitments, and overseeing some family rental properties, he found himself scheduled seven days a week. So he asked his supervisor at Convergys, a global billing-services company, about scaling back his time to four days. He was one of the first nonparents in his office to go part time.
A few years into the arrangement, Anderson reduced his work - and his salary - again, to three days a week. He's been offered promotions, but has turned them down because they'd require a full-time schedule. "Having balance in my life is much more valuable than trying to squeeze more hours and more responsibility in," he says. He's impressed that the company has found other ways besides promotions to acknowledge his contributions - such as substantial monetary awards.
The arrangement has solidified Anderson's loyalty to the company. "I don't think I could replicate this," he says. Because he built up his reputation for about five years before going part time, he wouldn't want to start over paying those dues somewhere else.
Changing mind-sets Even in companies with leaders committed to work-life balance, changing mind-sets of some managers and full-time employees can be a lot of work.
"When someone is looking for a co-worker and they hear that they are at home that day, they are reluctant to call, but they need to understand that the person is working from home," says John Veihmeyer, managing partner of the Washington, D.C., office of accounting firm KPMG.
Telecommuting is one of the most-used flexibility tools in his office. Five years ago, he says, the culture would have dictated that workers be at their desks at 8 a.m., even if an hour later they'd have to drive nearly an hour back to an appointment near his home. Now the emphasis is on "working smarter" - logging in and working from home when it would be more productive, he says.
Telecommuting is also being promoted as a way to reduce the traffic congestion. In Washington, D.C., area, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Council of Governments are striving to have 50,000 more people working at home (or at telecommuting centers near home) at least one day a week.
Some companies already have so many mobile workers that they create opportunities for human connection. Some Deloitte offices fly their remote workers in every third Friday. At IBM, where about 30% of employees are permanently mobile, the company sponsors socials and teas. "People want to feel like they belong to a community," Sinocchi says. "There's an effort now to go back and do some more of this high-touch stuff."
Future work: a seven-day weekend?
For decades, Semco has taken the meaning of workplace flexibility to new levels. At this Brazilian conglomerate, employees not only choose their own schedules, they often choose which part of the business to work for and even how much they'll be paid. Because they share in the company's profits, they're motivated to make choices that improve productivity. Semco had $212 million in revenue in 2003. Turnover among its 3,000 employees is about 1%.
Many executives from around the world have visited to see what makes Semco tick, but when CEO Ricardo Semler surveys the landscape of most workplaces, he sees slow progress on the flexibility front. Most, he says, are simply trying to manage a change forced upon them by computer technology that lets people work from anywhere. Rather than give up command-and-control management practices, they want software to track what remote workers are doing, he says.
"The essence to us (at Semco) was that people who are free people, who (can act) based on self-interest, who can balance their own lives, are much happier, more productive people," he says in phone interview while he was away from his post as a visiting scholar at Harvard University. "If you take a business call on a Sunday afternoon, for instance, why not go to the movies on a Monday?"
Semler, whose most recent book on Semco is titled "The Seven-Day Weekend: Changing the Way Work Works," rejects the notion that people won't want to work if given freedom.
"There really are only two things people can do that make their lives worthwhile: work and love.... How many people know how not to work at all? That's a very rare competence," he says. "I know at least a dozen or two (independently wealthy people) who could sit on beach or just roam around world ... and after a month they can't do it anymore."
Of course, trendy programs in the name of flexibility won't necessarily improve the work culture, he adds. "It's a bit like the casual-Friday thing.... To be a little bit flexible ... and at the same time have the rest of the organization be rigid, will have very little effect. Anyone who wants to develop a more flexible workplace will have to count on years (of experimentation and implementation), which people don't like to hear."
The many paths to a flexible workplace Workplace flexibility takes various forms and is gaining acceptance, says a Families & Work Institute report. Some forms are more popular than others. For example:
- Flex time: In 1992, 29% of workers could choose their starting and quitting time within a certain range of hours, and an additional 18% could choose on a daily basis. By 2002, it was up to 43% and 23%, respectively. About 73% say they use their flex-time options.
- Part time: 47% of workers can choose to work part time, but only 17% do so. Of those who work full time, 18% would prefer to work part time. (Among women, 24% have this preference.)
- Compressed workweeks: 42% can choose to work the same number of hours in 4 or 4-1/2 days a week. (One pilot program found that among workers with compressed workweeks, favorable ratings for work/life balance went up to 57% from 45%, according to a study by Prof. Allen Kraut of Baruch College in New York City.)
- Work at home/telecommuting: 2% work primarily from home; 9% work from home for part of every week; 43% say they'd like to have this option.
- Paid time off: 58% of high-wage employees and 28% of low-wage employees have paid time off to care for children.
- Informal flexibility: 63% say it is "not hard at all" or "not too hard" to take time off during the day to address personal issues. Women spend an average of 40 minutes each workday online for nonwork activity, such as banking and e-mailing friends.
6/05-07/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/04-06 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #2,3,4 which are from the 6/05-07 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Four-day working week now more attractive for some, by MP & National Party deputy finance spokesman John Key, scoop.co.nz.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - "Labour's narrowly targeted 'Working For Families' package will make a four-day working week more attractive for thousands of Kiwis [ie: New Zealanders], while the vast majority will miss out," says National Party Deputy Finance spokesman John Key.
"That's not because these families will be rolling in new-found cash, but because the Government is providing almost no incentive for them to work on the fifth day. It makes a mockery of Labour's catch-cry that this Budget will 'make work pay'.
"Under the Government's 'Working For Families' package a single income family earning $60,000 with two kids living in a Wellington suburb is only about $2,000 better off than an equivalent family earning $38,000. "If both families are paying off a student loan, the family earning $60,000 is less than $200 a year better off.
"That means if you're earning between $25 and $30 an hour and those conditions apply, you can cut back to a four-day a week and lose almost nothing because of Government top-ups.
"In other words, a hard-working mum or dad earning $25-$30 an hour has little financial reason to work more than four days a week," says Mr Key. "While some working parents may want to spend more time at home, Labour's policies will do nothing to help them get ahead. "The Government is forcing more middle income families to turn to the state for assistance.
"Labour is penalising too many New Zealanders with a narrow package that benefits only one in five households. While a few will benefit, there'll be plenty of losers. But the real loser will be our economy. At a time when we should be encouraging more people into the workforce. Labour's making it easier, and indeed financially viable, for more of them to stay at home," says Mr Key.
[The double mistake Mr. Key is making is in assuming that "in the workforce" necessarily means a full-time job and that a "full-time job" necessarily means 40 hours a week. In fact, automation and robotization mean that a full-time job necessarily involves less than 40 hours a week on an adjustable basis, going as low as it takes to get the job market to absorb comprehensive unemployment (includes welfare, disability, homelessness, prisons...) and with little or no comprehensive unemployment, the government needed subsidize people's newfound time off any more because wages will automatically rise in response to the new, perceived labor "shortage" and the government can safely cut taxes because most of the expenses it incurred in dealing with comprehensive unemployment are now gone.]
- Belgium mulls four-day working week, Xinhuanet via www.chinaview.cn.
BRUSSELS - Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt is considering the possibility of introducing a
four-day working week in the country, local Belgian media reported on Monday.
In an interview with Flemish newspaper Het Niewsblad, Verhofstadt said he thought the move could help Belgian firms become more competitive.
At present Belgium has a 38-hour working week and anyone working longer than that should be paid overtime. Under the current system, the working week is divided up over five days and strictly speaking, people must be paid overtime if they work more than 7.6 hours a day (in reality a normal working day tends to run to eight hours).
Verhofstadt's plan is to keep the 38-hour week but to divide it up over four days so that employers can ask their staff to put in a nine-and-a-half-hour day before they have to start paying overtime.
He argued the move would make Belgian firms more competitive and could in the long run reduce unemployment.
Belgian employers' federation, the Federations des Entreprises de Belgique, has reacted favorably to the Prime Minister's suggestions. But the country's trade unions seem less keen on the plan and are asking for talks with both the government and employers to discuss the proposals, said the newspaper.
[This is just a shell game like dividing the 40-hour week into four 10-hour days. There is no shorter worktime signficance or unemployment solution herein. We include the story just for the revelation that Belgium's official national workweek seems to be 38 hours, not 40. This is comparable to most of the unionized sector in eastern Germany.]
6/04/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/03 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- 6/6 City may let some employees work fewer hours, by Linda Weller, The [Alton, IL] Telegraph.
ALTON, Ill. - With Alton facing a $707,000 deficit in its proposed 2004-2005 budget, the city may allow full-time appointees and non-union employees to cut their work weeks by eight hours, and correspondingly reduce their pay.
The offer applies to 41 city employees, including seven department directors, three workers in the mayor’s, city clerk’s and treasurer’s offices; 16 appointed deputy directors and "confidential" employees; and 15 middle management workers.
Alton Mayor Don Sandidge said several employees -including one bargaining unit - approached city officials about reducing the number of hours they work each week, because of both tight city finances and for personal reasons.
He said he does not have a goal of how many people he would like to see cut their hours, and admitted the reductions won’t make a big difference in the city’s budget deficit.
"They are trying to help us out; every little bit helps," the mayor said.
When asked whether the cutback might prevent layoffs, Sandidge said it is possible, eventually. "We don’t want to do that; we’d rather do it through attrition," he said about reducing the number of city staff.
The mayor said he continues to ask department heads to "hold the purchases and overtime, and don’t buy it unless it is an emergency."
The city began last fiscal year with a predicted $1.2 million deficit, which it eliminated by cutting spending, overtime and other personnel expenses.
The aldermanic Committee of the Whole on Monday plans to consider a resolution authorizing the employees to reduce the number of hours they work from 40 to 32.
"Each department head shall have the discretion, with the prior consent of the mayor, to permit any non-union employee to reduce his or her basic work week," part of the resolution says.
If the committee recommends the resolution, the City Council will vote on it Wednesday. It then will come back in ordinance form for first reading, then a vote of approval at subsequent meetings.
David Miles, Alton director of personnel, said eligible employees could choose to participate in the four-day workweeks and that the option is voluntary. He admitted it might be difficult for smaller departments to accommodate such arrangements. "Should it not work out, the department director could require the employee to return to work," Miles said.
He said the idea "had been floating around for awhile. "We looked at a four-day week, working 40 hours, but that would be giving taxpayers an increase but cutting services," he said. "We are not going to cut services to taxpayers."
[Four 10-hour days is just a shell-game that does nothing to spread and share the vanishing work.]
Along with the 20% reduction in the participating workers’ base salary, the employees’ Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund contribution, longevity, sick days and vacation will be reduced accordingly, Miles said.
The workers’ health and life insurance benefits will not be affected, however, because the carrier requires minimum employment of 30 hours a week, he said.
Although the option is not formally in place, Miles said two or three people already have inquired about cutting their hours, but haven’t signed up yet.
Another employee, Amy Sholar, planning coordinator of development and housing, is resigning to work with the city as an
independent contractor but would perform many of the same duties part-time. Sholar’s contract for professional services says
she will be compensated $20 per hour, to be paid $800 twice a month with adjustments allowed. Her pay will not exceed $5,200 during any one quarter of the year, the contract says.
Her contract also comes before the committee on Monday, then the City Council on Wednesday.
- 6/07 The 40th president...- A champion of small government who helped reset the world stage, by Marilyn Berger, NYT, A20.
...A 9-to-5 president
...Ronald Reagan...seemed to have no need to prove that he could work harder, or longer, on less sleep than anybody. Where his predecessor was criticized for involving himself in every detail, Mr. Reagan was a 9-to-5 president, a chairman of the board....
- [Contrast the "special" CEO of Dow Chemical -]
6/6 Leaving the comfort zone, by Claudia Deutsch, NYT, 3:9.
William S. Stavropoulos
Chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical, Midland, MI...
Years at Dow Chemical [= 'seniority']
Hours at work daily
"This job is not counted in hours."...
[Red alert. Double-standard alert. Everyone ELSE is subject to a gauge of productivity but not the CEO??? How can we possibly have an efficient, productive enterprise if the appointed leader is not subject to the same yardsticks of efficiency and productivity, WHICH REQUIRE TIME ACCOUNTABILITY, as eveyone else?! This is perhaps the biggest symptom of the eroding skills of American (and global) CEOs as we descend deeper and deeper into national and global labor surplus based on the rigid 40-hour workweek that has not been adjusted since 1940 despite wave after wave of labor-saving innovation. And it's clear evidence of the self-insulation and isolation and classism of CEOs and their self-fortification for initiating, not just reacting to, class warfare. What unnecessary and self-destructive stupidity!]
- [Note neighboring article -]
6/6 Does outsourcing cost more than it saves? by Editor-in-Chief William Holstein of Chief Executive Magazine via NYT, 3:9.
Many executives say that outsourcing is a winning strategy.
[Yeah, it's win them shrinking domestic demand!]
An exception is Sidney Harman, executive chairman of Harman International Industries, based in Washington, a maker of audio and electronic control systems for automakers. Following are excerpts from a[n interview]:
Q: You don't believe in outsourcing?
A. It's not so much that I don't believe in it. I just don't see outsourcing as central to our company's engagement or purpose. Let me [define] what I mean by outsourcing: it is
I don't think either one of those is fundamentally a good strategy.
- either the business of turning over the production or development of our products and services to another company
- or setting up facilities in low-labor-rate nations to take advantage of presumed opportunities.
Q. But companies that are rushing to outsource say the labor savings are enormous. Are they missing something?
A. Yes, they lose something in the very rush...to do it. A handful of years ago, 15% of total cost was represented by direct labor. Today, it is less than 5%, and it is headed lower.
[What a testimony to the advance of automation and robotics!]
I ask you: Does it take a genius to conclude that if it gets down to 1% or less, it doesn't matter very much whether we build the product in Indonesia or Indiana?
[Except from the point of view of where is that 1% more likely to serve as your customers' customers. By the way, with less than 5% of your total cost represented by direct labor, what% is indirect labor (and how are each defined?) and if all companies follow your lead, who's left to buy your customers' products? Recall the Ford-Reuther Paradox: Ford, "Let's see you unionize these robots!" Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars."]
Q: For you, technology is more important [than location of labor]?
A: The technology in the systems that we produce and the factories in which we produce them is driving a powerful change in direct labor costs as a percentage of total cost.
[Where now those academic sneerers at the "Lump of Labor Fallacy" and those who easily assume that technology creates more jobs than it shoulders and destroys? Far from sneers, these developments constitute a Timesizing Imperative that, unless heeded, will result in collapsing markets and permanent depression. Of course, we can go on hiding its immediate presence by more and more irrelevant, diluted and reverse/perverse measures.]
If we see that trajectory and then go make the very substantial investments that one is obliged to make in setting up a facility in a low-labor rate location - not just the bricks and mortar, but also the training and many intangible costs - you're obliged to look out 3, 4, 5 years at the very least to make the investment work.
Q. Do you sacrifice something if you outsource work?
A. When you outsource, particularly if you turn the whole project over to another firm, you have in effect yielded that which provides you with the opportunity to distinguish yourself. I've seen this over and over again.
Q. Does the innovation process break down?
A. [Yes.] I think a host of things break down. First of all, I don't think of many things as more intrinsic to the long-range thrust of a company, to the development of a company as a place of innovation and creativity and progress than the ability to design your own products and build your own products. You have to lovingly make them and care about their quality. It's difficult to wrap numbers around that and prove it, but I think it's central. When you yield it to somebody else, you in effect abandon it.
Q. Outsourcing providers would argue that they are specialists in certain areas.
A. ...Whenever that occurs...it's reasonable [for] the would-be outsourcer [to ask himself], "Why am I in the business at all? Why aren't you [the other company, directly] in it?"
Q. Another argument is that you should outsource things in which you don't specialize.
A. That clearly is a more valid argument. Then you have to define what is your core. But, yes, there are quite rudimentary things [ie: peripheral functions] in every industry and every company that can readily be farmed out without significant compromise.
Q. Do you believe that CEOs have some moral responsibility [ie: long-term self-interest] to keep jobs in the U.S.?
A. I haven't said a word to [imply] that I have this point of view, because it's an expression of nationalism [which would be inappropriate for a multinational top executive?]. I'm not trying to keep jobs [in the U.S. But] that's one of the consequences of my point of view [is it really, in view of the Answer below?], but it's not the thing that creates [or drives] the point of view, [which is rather what I've said about our small direct labor costs relative to the high costs of setting up factories overseas or giving up our core business].... The short-term implications [of globalization and its subcategory, outsourcing] are undoubtedly job loss and displacement, although I would suggest to you that in this country [U.S., technological] productivity has a far greater impact on job creation and job loss than outsourcing.
[We agree. Outsourcing can be curbed by traditional tariffs. Technology has to be detoxified by something new = Timesizing.]
Q. What percentage of your sales is in the U.S.?
A. Let me remind you that our factories where we produce are not limited to the U.S. Over 50% of production is done outside the U.S., but it's done in our factories, and overwhelmingly they are in high-labor-rate locations - Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain and Switzerland. This is not Indochina.
[Note the simplistic (misleading) implication that outsourcing is OK if it's to the First World. This is immediately corrected.]
So much of our business is done with the European automakers, with BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Audi [that] our factories are located where they are.
[The real implication here is that outsourcing is OK if it's to the location of the customers. And this is a sustainable principle that most outsourcing violates, thus suicidally diminishing its own markets.]
In a way, this is a marvelous expression of globalization. That is to say, BMW and Mercedes are our customers over there and they are also our customers here now.
[But this same situation substantially prevailed before globalization, just by manufacturers selling to their own domestic markets. The only thing that has changed is that a supranational corporation makes it possible for fewer, more powerful top executives to skim more transactions in more national economies. And this supranational concentration of income and wealth can thereby impose a dampening, inefficient-rendering, disutility on more nations and populations. This is at best a sideways movement, not a step forward, violating, as it does, the Marginal Utility of Concentrated Capital. Note that prevailing, compromised-economists' wisdom today is tantamount, incredibly, to reversed marginalism!]
Q. What about the long-term implications of globalization?
A. ...One should not conclude that you sacrifice the standard of living in the..\..industrial nations.... Look at Great Britain. 150 years ago, its dominance of the world was as great as the U.S.'s has been recently. Today, it is a relatively more modest player in the world. But [its] standard of living is much higher.
[We would suggest that the relevant comparison is not to its standard of living 150 years but to its standard of living 30-40 years ago, and we believe its current standard of living is lower and therefore has indeed been sacrificed to globalization and outsourcing, as has also the U.S.'s. CEOs are always pulling-in these favorable but irrelevant points of comparison to rationalize their long-term suicide on all our behalf. Watch for it.]
- 6/6 Study finds obstacles to retirement - Massachusetts workers not saving, by Scott Greenberger, Boston Globe, front page.
The leading edge of Massachusetts' 1.87m babyboomers will reach retirement age in less than 5 years, but many who hoped to retire in their early 60s will be forced to work longer, because they won't have enough Social Security and other income, a study to be released tomorrow...by MassINC, a non-partisan thinktank..\..says.
Despite the relative prosperity of the state as a whole, about a third of full-time employees in Mass. lack any pension coverage. The Bay State [Mass.] has a below-average homeownership rate, meaning fewer retirees will be able to draw on that nest egg. [And] the state's notoriously high cost of living makes it harder for everyone, especially fixed-income retirees....
[And since companies right and left are converting away from fixed-beneft pension plans, even many of those who do have pension plans are being plunged into uncertainty. Altogether, the perpetuation of the 1940 workweek level despite technological advance is frogstepping the nation into Third World depression.]
- 6/05 A delicate balance of work and family - Helping employees juggle their family and work can be win-win for both employees and companies, which can retain staff and become more attractive to potential recruits, by Angela Tan, Business Times Singapore.
When Lim Nah discovered her one-year-old boy to be suffering from developmental delays, she was devastated. The senior corporate communications manager had just started working for newly opened Singapore Management University (SMU) and was at
her wits' end as to how she was going to look after her child without having to quit her job.
But that was back in 2000. Today, the 34-year-old mother of two has struck a balance between her work and family needs. She is still working at SMU - all thanks to a very understanding and encouraging boss.
'After I discovered my younger son's needs, I approached my boss to see how I could supervise my son who has to go through rigorous programmes. Because SMU was still new, there was no standard procedure. But my boss was very encouraging and agreed
to me working in the office Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and from home on Tuesday and Thursday,' Ms Lim told BT.
So for one and a half years, Ms Lim has been the main caregiver at home, diligently going through programmes for children with special needs, looking after her child's diet, physical needs and speech development.
Today, her little boy can walk. But that's not the end of her problems as every stage of growth has its own set of challenges.
Desperate, Ms Lim eventually took six months of no-pay leave from January to July 2003. Fortunately, things improved. Her son is now old enough to attend school and Ms Lim is able to return to work on a full-time basis.
'I am very grateful to SMU's flexible work arrangements. But more importantly, I am also blessed that those working with me are very helpful and supportive,' Ms Lim said.
Ms Lim's predicament over how to juggle her job and family needs is not unique. Many working people, not just working parents, face this dilemma every day. The government recognises this.
It is perhaps this fear that as long as this dilemma is not resolved, few people will get married and even fewer married couples will want to have a child - something Singapore can ill-afford given its rapidly ageing population.
Singapore's fertility rate - the number of children born per woman of reproductive age - is at a historical low of 1.38, far below the 2.1 rate needed for a population to replace itself. Hence, as part of an effort to promote healthy living, the government has been actively trying to help employers and employees achieve a balance between work and family.
Long term payoff
The Work-Life Unit was formed under the Ministry of Community Development & Sports (MCDS) three years ago. Together with the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress, it faces the daunting task of convincing employers that work-life practices pay off in the long term.
Work-life practices are not merely employee welfare benefits. Simply put, it is what an employer does to create a more friendly and supportive environment so that its employees are able to focus on their jobs while at work. It can be categorised into flexible work arrangement, leave benefits and employee support schemes.
Contrary to popular belief, a family-friendly work place does not necessarily translate to higher costs for employers since some initiatives can be done free. A study of 11 family-friendly organisations between April and July 2003 found that for every dollar invested on work-life practices, an average return of $1.68 was reaped, regardless of company size. The study also showed companies saw positive returns within one year of implementing a work-life strategy. The bulk of the savings
was from retention of staff.
In fact, many companies with work-life policies found they could promote themselves as such to attract more talent.
'There is a worldwide shortage of healthcare workers especially the good ones. Extending work-life practices to these staff will definitely build a stronger bond with them, making us the employer of choice,' said Henry Wong of Alexandra Hospital's human resource department.
'Having a good work-life practice alone does not increase productivity. In my opinion, it is a motivational tool that is to be used with other management tools to achieve business objective,' Mr Wong said. Alexandra Hospital was able to retain six
employees in 2002 due to work-life practices and saved $136,000 in the process.
NCS is another company which has benefited from fostering work-life friendly environment. It started enjoying improved retention rate, retaining talents and cutting down the cost of retraining new staff.
'Working life is like a marathon. There are certain times in your life when you'd like to run faster. Times when you want to slow down due to other priorities. This ties in with one of our core values - respect for the individual,' says KC Lee, NCS chief executive.
But work-life strategies are not easy to implement - be it within the company or different sectors given the varying nature of work and personal problem. For example, it is harder to implement flexible working hours for production line workers as
it would hinder line operations compared to implementing it in non-manufacturing sectors.
Employers also fear there could be cases of staff abusing the system. As a result, such flexible arrangements are given on a case-by-case basis and not extended to everyone.
SMU human resources director Ong Tiong Eng said: 'The key to its success is the company CEO. The rest is implementation. It has to be based on honesty and responsibility. The other is performance-based.'
Even Hewlett-Packard, known for having innovative work arrangements, scrutinises every request. Rich Vosburgh, vice-president of human resources for Asia-Pacific and Japan, said employees who 'have demonstrated their ability to exceed performance expectations and manage their work independently are more likely to succeed while working on a flexible work arrangement'.
But if you see these alternative work arrangements as a breeze, think again.
Workers on flexible arrangements complain of 'unseen stress' when immediate co-workers and supervisors are not supportive even though the arrangement is within company's policies. Others lament the negative impact on their careers.
'Initially, you'll see your subordinate overtake you in terms of promotion and career progress. That is part and parcel of life,' says Yong Mai Vean, chief of corporate shared services at NCS.
No less work
The mother of three boys, who chose to work part-time from 1992 to 2001 to see her children grow up, also warned that part-time does not mean less work.
'It is not a bed of roses. You are often expected to work more than what is expected of a full-time staff,' Ms Yong said.
Fortunately for Ms Yong, when she converted to full-time basis in 2001, her management appreciated her contributions as general manager of organisational development, and promoted her.
Jane Cowling, vice-president of CSFB's risk measurement and management department, noted that a company's informal arrangements like providing a nursing room also help. She is a mother of a seven-month-old baby and works from home once a week.
On concerns over career development, Kirstie Ellard, CSFB head of HR in Singapore said: 'Taking paid or unpaid leave does not affect one's career. The company does a due diligence of people who have taken leave, to ensure they are not
What is clear, though, is that much remains to be done. As Gracie Wee, Work-Life Unit deputy director said, changing mindsets takes time.
'It took the US, UK, Australia and other advanced countries nearly 20 years to build a work-life friendly culture. Given that Singapore only embarked on promoting work-life harmony in 2000, it would take us some time to build it.'
6/03/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/02 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA (except #4 which is from the 6/03 newspaper hardcopy), and excerpts and [comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- [High time for the women's movement to get behind the shorter hours agenda?]
Creating a workplace that fits, by Joan Ryan, San Francisco Chronicle.
A friend explained that her husband wouldn't be joining us for dinner one recent Saturday night because he had a business engagement. The dozen or so partners at his distinguished Silicon Valley venture capital firm were throwing a party to celebrate a particularly lucrative investment.
"Wives aren't invited,'' my friend said.
"Don't you mean spouses?''
"They're all men,'' she said.
"There isn't a single female partner?''
"Oh, God, no. It's like a boys' club.''
I huffed around like a peeved schoolgirl for the next several hours. No women? At all? I soon discovered you are only slightly more likely to find a woman occupying a corner office of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm as you are to find one occupying a corner locker of a National Football League team. I asked around. There is a very good reason, I was told.
It is the reason repeated so often over so many years in so many different contexts that it has become accepted wisdom: Women choose not to hold the top executive positions. As a spate of recent magazine stories has patiently explained, professional women who are also mothers are increasingly "opting out'' of the corporate climb. Too many demands. Too many hours. Too much stress.
Equal opportunity arrived, the argument seems to go, but women waved it away to play Candyland and drive carpool.
Here is the real story: The needs of the workforce outgrew the structure of the workplace. Women now understand that fitting into the workplace should never have been the goal of feminism. The goal should have been, as it is now, to create a workplace worth fitting into, one that recognizes that workers have lives and obligations outside the office.
I bring this up because California takes a step in that direction on July 1.
On that Thursday, California will become the first state in the United States to offer workers six weeks of paid family leave. The federal government already allows for unpaid family leave, but the law is useless for most people. How can they afford to live without a paycheck for a week, much less a month or more?
The California benefit is funded through paycheck deductions under the State Disability Insurance, amounting to a maximum of $55 per person this year and $63 next year. In return, workers can receive about 55% of their pay to a maximum weekly benefit of $728, increasing to $840 in 2005.
"This is a small piece of a much larger challenge we're grappling with as a society,'' said Irma Herrera, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates in San Francisco, one of the groups that championed the legislation.
The challenge is to turn our offices and factories into places where parents - mothers, especially - are not expected to choose between their jobs and their families, which is not a choice at all. It is like asking someone to choose between shelter and food - then blaming her for the consequences of her "choice.'' If she works full time, she's choosing to let someone else raise her children. If she quits because her company is inflexible about family time, she's "opting out.''
The truth is most working mothers don't have the luxury of opting out. Unlike the women profiled in those magazine articles, most don't have husbands who make enough money on their own to live in decent neighborhoods with decent schools. These women work because their families need the paycheck.
And after the economic downturn, many companies today are less rather than more accommodating of working parents. According to a survey of nearly 600 members, the Society for Human Resource Management found that companies offering flex time dropped from 64% in 2002 to 55% in 2003. Job sharing dropped from 26% in 2001 to 22% last year. Companies are also cutting back on other family-friendly benefits like telecommuting, compressed workweeks and job sharing.
That's why California's paid-leave law, Sen. Edward Kennedy's proposal for a federal minimum sick leave benefit, and state laws that allow workers to use personal sick days to care for family members, are so important.
"They seem little, these laws, but they're huge,'' said Netsy Firestein, director of the Labor Project for Working Families in Berkeley.
They signal a recognition that society loses out when parents can't be parents - when children are left alone between 3 and 7 p.m., or they can't participate in Boy Scouts because there's no one to drive them, or they go to school sick because mom and dad can't take the day off.
Society - and business - lose out when talented, hard-working women feel forced to stay in low-level jobs to maintain some semblance of balance in their lives. "A woman can work in a law office but never make partner because she can't work 100 hours a week,'' Firestein said. "There's something really wrong with that formula.''
We live in a society that has produced Condoleeza Rice and Sandra Day O'Connor and Carly Fiorina. But don't be fooled. Here in the dawn of the 21st century, women fill just 22% of America's top executive positions - and 97% of the secretarial and administrative assistant spots, according to U.S. Department of Commerce statistics for 2000.
For all the progress of feminism, the workplace has yet to mature into a place that reflects the lives we lead today. The doors to the corporate clubhouse might not say "Girls Keep Out!'' But try passing through with a baby in a Snugli.
6/02/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 6/01 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Comment: Is 35-hour working week the key? by Brian Fallow, New Zealand Herald.
[No, Brian, the working week that automatically adjusts against comprehensive unemployment, however high or low that may take it, is the key. And 'comprehensive employment' includes everyone who isn't self-supporting or privately supported; that is, unemployment, welfare, disability, homelessness, prison, and a lot of people who are forced retired, forced unretired, forced self-employed and forced part-time too.]
FRANCE - In the late 1990s, faced with stubbornly high unemployment, France adopted the 35-hour working week in the hope of regulating more jobs into existence.
Has it worked? Up to a point, it would seem.
Studies by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Labour and independent economic thinktank OFCE all say it created around 350,000 jobs, a little less than expected, says Gilbert Cette, an economist at the Bank of France and author of a report on the reduction of the hours of work for the Council of Economic Analysis.
[We'd say more, because during the period when it was being planned and implemented, 1997-2001, French unemployment declined from 12.6% to 8.6%, one percent for every hour's workweek reduction, the same result that American workweek setting&reduction achieved between 1938 (44 hrs/wk) and 1940 (40 hrs/wk).]
Not everyone is convinced, however. Thomas Chaudron, vice-president of the Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants d'Entreprises, an organization for young managers and entrepreneurs, says there is a big debate about whether it created any more jobs.
[But then corporate (ie: 'micro-economic') managers and entrepreneurs are notoriously and suicidally near-sighted. Look at what they are doing to the world's forests and fisheries.]
It was introduced, at least for larger firms, in a time of strong economic growth. So what was the counterfactual? How many jobs would have been created anyway?
['Counterfactual'?? Must be either a Kiwi thing or French loanword. This 'would have been' question seems to have gotten dropped, but the thumbnail history that's substituted is valuable anyway.]
When the Left was in power between 1981 and 1986 it had the idea of reducing the working week from 40 to 35 hours, but it had only got to 39 hours when it lost power. When it returned to office in 1997, the idea was to finish the process.
Germany, in the meantime, had gone some of the way down the same path. Some industrial sectors had by negotiation adopted the 35-hour week in the 1990s so that by the end of the decade the average contractual working week was 37.5 hours.
When the Right returned to power in France in 2002, it decided it was impossible to return to a 39-hour week. It contented itself with increasing the amount of overtime that can be worked, to 180 hours a year with a maximum of 48 hours worked in any week, and gave smaller firms longer to make the transition.
[You can still seriously weaken a workweek ceiling by removing incentive to observe it via overtime expansion.]
Cette says part of the motivation for the reduction in working hours was to boost collective bargaining. One reason the French labour market is so heavily regulated is that collective bargaining is weak. Unions are noisy, numerous and political but their membership is small. In the private sector union membership is only around 5%.
"So what we have tried to do in this process is to increase collective bargaining and reduce regulation. Firms were given the opportunity not to apply certain provisions of the regulations if that was agreed collectively."
For white-collar workers, for example, working time may be calculated by days rather than hours.
But that has its downside too. One manager said the people who reported to him took on average 18 days in lieu [of what?] a year, on top of public holidays and five weeks annual leave [US: 'vacation'] (a statutory requirement). "Sometimes it seems the person I want is never here," he said. "And they are not interchangeable parts."
However, the option of 1600 hours a year [as a per-person cap] instead of 35 hours a week provides valuable flexibility for large firms with an element of variability in their workload. Within limits, fewer hours can be worked in some weeks and more in others, without incurring penal overtime rates.
Chaudron...established a company six years ago which makes office partitions. It employs 20 people and turns over more than E5 million ($9.7 million) a year.
"In my company, people work the same number of hours each day as before but get more days off. That is what most companies did," he said.
Arithmetically the reduction from 39 to 35 hours would increase hourly wage costs by 11.4%, all else being equal.
How has that been funded?
Crucially, says Cette, unit labour costs have not increased faster in France than in the euro zone as a whole.
- Partly by productivity gains. People work harder or smarter or there is a better match between the hours worked and the hours needed.
- Partly by wage moderation, income gains foregone.
- Partly by Government subsidy through lower social-security levies worth about E11 billion a year, though they will tail off after five years.
- And partly because the reduction is more apparent than real, if for example rest breaks are counted more accurately.
France remains attractive as a destination for foreign investment. In 2002, it was the second largest destination for foreign direct investment in the world, after China. Last year it was fourth, ahead of Britain and Germany.
[This is quite a revelation in view of the scare people like PM Raffarin have been trying to put into the French people about discouraging foreign investment. Britain is notorious, as is the U.S., for its workaholism, and we've been stretching back to 2001 for stories that rebut this alarmism about France's shorter workweek discouraging foreign investment. Now we'll just refer back here.]
"That reflects competitive unit labour costs, good infrastructure, highly skilled people and - despite our image - fewer working days lost to strikes than in Germany, Italy or even the United Kingdom," Cette said. Hourly productivity in France compares favourably even with the United States, basically because employment has been concentrated among the most productive people.
[Still a problem with unemployment verging on double digit. To exclude the less productive from self-support is to tax the most productive with the partial loss of time control inherent in employment, and as Milton Friedman says, over time you get less of whatever you tax.]
Chaudron said: "The unions are saying that most of those hired today are part-timers or casuals. Full-time new jobs are no longer the rule."
[Basically it's time to rethaw the workweek in France and let it continue its originally projected one-hour-a-year reduction - coupled with automatic overtime-targeted training&hiring - until French unemployment comes down to whatever level the French themselves, by yearly public referendum, decide.]
Because of barriers to firing, as an employer he prefers to hire someone from a temp agency first, to try them out. "Because if they are not good, you are stuck with them."
As for the wide wedge between what it costs to employ someone and his or her take-home pay, Chaudron says: "Our position is that it is fair enough to fund unemployment benefits by a charge on companies. There is a real link there. But there is no [such link] for health. Anyone can get sick, not just workers. But the system was established after World War II and people are very attached to it."
[If France decided to lead the world by modernizing their economy fully with automatic adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment, the "charge on companies" to fund unemployment benefits would be reduced to a negligible amount or completely eliminated.]
Cette says that, while the short-term employment gains from the reduction in the working week are not negligible, he belongs to the school of thought that long term it will have no effect at all.
[True, if worksaving technology is still poured into the economy and employers respond by downsizing instead of 'timesizing.']
If the reduction does not change firms' unit production costs, he argues, it will not change the long-term equilibrium rate of unemployment. It might speed up a cyclical reduction in unemployment by anticipating a reduction in hours that would occur spontaneously anyway.
[Oh yes, the famous myth of the "spontaneously occurring reduction in hours." Too bad that translates into higher unemployment in an economy stuck in a downsizing response to technology instead of a reduced workweek for everyone and lower unemployment.]
If, on the other hand, it increases firms' unit production costs, it will be counter-productive, increasing the long-term equilibrium unemployment rate, and the favourable cyclical effects will be smaller.
[Not at all. Mr.Cette ignored the continuing huge factor of inrushing technology above, and here he's ignoring the continuing huge factor of an unemployment-weakened consumer base. Cette is making the usual employer's mistake of assuming that it's all about productivity, regardless of marketability - but of course it's really about the balance between the two, a balance that is most efficiently achieved by full employment and thus a fully activated domestic consumer base - with inflation control switched to the balance between inflationary and deflationary incentives resulting from an intelligent overtime design.]
- [Not completely sure what this one's all about - it's very culture-specific...to contemporary France.]
"Unequal in the face of time – What are the risks for older people ?" by Luc Gwiazdzinski, geographer, Director of "Maison du temps et de la mobilité" in Belfort-Montbéliard, France, via TheMature Market.com.
FRANCE - The question of time is no longer a mere philosophical matter. Time, or rather time management, is increasingly perceived as a concrete problem, sustaining our daily conversations. Although working hours have been reduced [to 35/wk], time still seems to be lacking. Today, [French] newspapers abundantly speak of "night sales", "commercial evenings", stores open on Sundays, night work for women. The emergence of such events shows that our lifestyles have undergone drastic changes, which we never asked for nor chose.
Although we may live in the same areas, work in the same companies, live in the same buildings or even be part of a same family, we barely meet each other as we have different working hours.
[Gwiazdzinski seems to be mourning the standard 9-to-5 (or French equivalent) workweek that used to unite people on the same standard schedule - at least more so than after the 'efficiencies' that accompanied the introduction of the 35-hour workweek in France. This schedule dissonance is the focus of one of the two vignettes we omitted from Sue Shellenbarger's article, #4 below (because the parents in the case never really changed anything).]
We are united by information but we have never experienced such scattered temporalities. Faced with such desynchronization, our schedules get overcrowded and keep us under pressure.
[Is he blaming the 35-hour workweek for this? And ifso, he has not made clear the chain of cause and effect. We would expect an argument along the lines of - "the French workweek reduction has really just been a workweek compression" = same amount of work in shorter amount of time. But then, that's the whole point of technology, n'est-ce pas? If you don't like that, then mention technology by name and argue against it a la luddism.]
The traditional "8h-noon, 14h-18h » pattern that used to govern our individual and common life has had its day.
[Well there we have the French equivalent of 9-to-5; that is, 8-12 and 2-6. It seems that the French standard included an almost-Spanish long mid-day 'lunch', possibly because they had dinner at 'lunchtime' and only a smaller supper at 'dinnertime' - rather a healthier lifestyle than loading up with food closer to bedtime.]
Everyone juggles with these new times, comes up against the more traditional working hours of society, administrations, public and private services or transportation and has to find a balance between family life, work, social life and private life. Such accelerated competition generates strain, depression and exclusion.
This organization of time, which succeeds to ['follows a standard separation of life into'] « church time » and « factory time », offers opportunities for a few. However, not all populations are equally [prepared] to face such acceleration and the breaking up of social times. This « secateur time » ['pruning-shears time'] creates new inequalities...([in] services, transport[ation,]…)..\..based on age, gender, social condition and geographical location.
[Again, if Gwiazdzinski is blaming all this on the shorter workweek, we'd argue that the new inequalities are by a whole scale of milder than the old, where 12.6% were unemployed and excluded from self-support. Gwiazdzinski is also ignoring the fact that this process of new-inequality creation cannot itself be new, since the whole world started off with 80-84 hour workweeks back in the early 1800s, and by the mid-1900s, the developed economies, including France, had come down to the 40-hr/wk standard.]
While some of us never have enough time and seem to be boosted by superactivity, others, e.g. older people, are overwhelmed by slack times.
[Older people without hobbies are always overwhelmed by slack time when they retire. What on earth is his point?]
Moreover, older people are not always able to adjust to the ever-greater complexity of our environment. It is difficult for them to get organized, to move and to get involved in city life, to cope with the new rythms of this « à la carte city ».
[Are we talking about Paris here, or about the whole of France under the metaphor of a city?]
Should we fail to reorganize the city ergonomics, older or disabled persons might be condemned to immobility and be excluded from the new city that is slowly emerging before our very eyes.
[Again, older or disabled persons are always condemned to immobility except where technology and income distribution grants them reprieve.]
On the contrary, their experience, distance and wisdom can help us safeguard the time we need for breaks and [social?] exchanges.
We have to take stock of the experiments that have been carried out in various countries in order to combat these inequalities...and to initiate a wide debate on what kind of society we want to live in. We cannot keep on dismissing this issue. By doing so, we take the risk of letting isolated decisions generate new imbalances and new inequalities. Organising a public debate enlightened by experts would help recover the control and meaning of our living times, break free from the dictatorship of urgency, and fight against all new inequalities without leaving arbitration [arbitrary conditions?] up to the weakest among us.
[Ah, a shorter workweek gives people more control over their lives, not less, because it gives them control over 5 more of their total of 168 hours per week than they had when subject to a 40-hour workweek standard. Maybe the French implementation of the recent 4-hour reduction was flawed, but the general popularity of the 35-hour workweek in France regardless of its imperfect implementation and the corelative reduction of French unemployment from 12.6 to 8.6%, argues for a net gain in control, not a net loss.]
The so-called "Biennale du temps", which will take place in Besançon from June 16 through June 18 2004 will be a good opportunity to launch this debate and to enhance it with our differences [huh?]: the only way we can hope to defend the least advantaged, to reinforce equality between citizens and to strengthen social cohesion is by bringing up the issue of time and inequalities within the framework of a wide public debate and not by referring it back to the private sphere.
[By continuing workweek reduction until its current nine point something percent unemployment comes waaaay down, France would make it a lot easier for senior citizens and the disabled to rejoin the workforce and participate on an equal footing with everyone else. And the gradual conversion of "retirement" into temporary, potentially rehabilatable "disability" would unburden the workforce. How hard would it be for most disabled and retired people to work four 4-hour days, and this is the kind of workweek the American technocrats were calling for back in the early 1930s because of the advance of worksaving technology!]
- Redefining retirement in the 21st century, Knowledge@Wharton.
USA - The demographics of today’s workforce, employee expectations about retirement and the types of retirement options offered are all in a state of flux, making retirement policy a moving target for those charged with researching and administering pension plans. That was the message at a recent Wharton conference titled “Reinventing the Retirement Paradigm,” hosted by Olivia Mitchell, executive director of The Pension Research Council at Wharton, and Robert L. Clark, professor of business management and economics at North Carolina State University.
This article is the second of two; the first article, published in our last issue, covered retirement policy issues ranging from pension fund management to accounting reform to transparency. This article focuses on pension planning as it relates to employment trends among both younger and older workers.
One Option: “Phased Retirement”
According to Patrick Purcell, an economist with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, 27% of the population will be over 65 by 2035 compared to 17% now. Growth in the population aged 20-54 will accelerate briefly, then fall sharply, which will have implications for employers trying to fill jobs. Among men, 90% between the ages of 20 to 54 are employed but it drops to 68% for men aged 55 to 64. For women aged 20 to 54, 75% are working, but after age 55 employment drops to 55%.
Overall, pension coverage has remained at 50% for more than 40 years, but there has been a substantial shift from defined benefit plans, which provide guaranteed lifetime benefits to employees, to defined contribution plans such as 401ks, which provide savings incentives but leave their management up to employees. In 2001, only 1 in 5 workers in the private sector were in a defined benefit plan, although Purcell said defined benefit plans tend to get more attention because they are offered at larger, more visible firms. Many defined benefit plans subsidize early retirement, while defined contribution plans are generally age-neutral. “That’s a vestige of another time when we needed to move older workers out,” Purcell said.
He discussed the idea of “phased retirement,” in which older workers continue with their employers on a part-time basis. To make that work financially, many workers need to unlock some early retirement benefits. That, however, is problematic; defined-benefit plans often require an employee to stop working before receiving benefits. Meanwhile, legislation has been introduced that would allow phased retirement plans, but it has not generated much interest, Purcell said, asking the question: “Should tax subsidies that have been created to promote pensions be extended to include people who have not yet retired? Do we really want to make that fundamental change?” He expects that strong workforce participation levels among those aged 55 to 64 will continue, with health insurance coverage being a major driver.
Katharine G. Abraham, professor of survey methodology at the University of Maryland, suggested that changing workforce demographics have made companies more interested in employing older people. “Employers are concerned about the ability to recruit workers,” said Abraham, adding that policy makers are worried about “the solvency of Medicare and the Social Security system.” She also noted that while many employees say they would like to continue to work beyond retirement age, few actually end up doing so.
Looming Labor Shortages
[This kind of scare has always mystified us in our Age of Automation, not to mention Robotics. It seems an extreme of compartmentalized thinking. And entirely obsequious to the most near- and short-sighted CEO viewpoint.]
According to research by Abraham and Susan Houseman, senior economist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, only a quarter of older workers surveyed said they planned to stop working entirely at retirement age. Of the rest, 18% said they planned to work fewer hours, 5% said they wanted to change jobs and the rest said they did not have plans. When interviewed two years later, two-thirds of the people who planned to stop work actually did so, but most of those who planned to work fewer hours had not followed through. Abraham said the disconnect may have to do with the employment that is available. “Most of them are doing exactly what they were doing before or stopped working altogether.”
Houseman noted that perhaps those who reduced their hours were working more than 40 hours to begin with, so the reduction in hours did not reduce their salary. Other workers had been working two jobs and cut one out. “They are not fundamentally renegotiating their employment,” she said.
The research also indicated that those with pension plans were more likely to plan to retire; within that group, workers with a defined benefit plan were more likely to quit than those with a defined contribution plan. “Becoming eligible to receive a defined benefit greatly increases the probability of retirement,” said Houseman, adding that health insurance is also a factor. Those covered by a plan or through their spouse’s employer were more likely to reduce hours, and those with medical plans covering them in retirement were more likely to stop working.
The self-employed were more likely than other workers to continue working and less likely to stop altogether, although Houseman said that could be because self-employment comes with inherent flexibility. Other factors that can influence retirement plans include a change in health status or assets, such as job loss and/or the decline in 401k portfolios.
Research also indicates that workers do not understand their finances or don’t incorporate them into retirement planning until they are right up against the decision point, according to Houseman. She suggested that the gap between people who would like to continue to work, but work less in retirement, and those who actually do may indicate a need for new policies to help older workers transition to full retirement. “We already have programs to assist older workers who are unemployed or dislocated. There may be broader need for this kind of policy.”
Anna Rappaport, a partner at Mercer Human Resource Consulting, noted that many companies have dropped prohibitions against rehiring retirees to fill gaps in their labor force. “The action is heavily around the rehiring of retirees. There is a lot of that happening out in the private sector.”
She said that as the first wave of baby boomers begins to take early retirement, certain industries – like aerospace, utilities and healthcare – are already facing severe labor shortages. “Phased retirement is important to workers and employers,” said Rappaport, “and in the case of aerospace, to the national security of this country.”
She advised employers to analyze the demographic makeup of their workforce and find out where they have gaps developing. Individuals, too, should evaluate their resources, financial options and skills. “People work after retirement for very different reasons. There is a significant number of people who do it out of economic need, whether for healthcare or for money … We’re in a situation where our policy actions can give people the opportunity to create their own future.”
Impact of Baby Boomers
In a panel on “Managing the Retirement Promise,” Janemarie Mulvey, assistant director of the Research Information Center at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, discussed strategies to retain older workers that balance the promise of retirement income with changing workforce demographics.
She pointed out that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) guarantees pension benefits that are already accrued, but does not require employers to continue to provide pension benefits in the future. Employers offer pensions voluntarily to minimize turnover and receive certain tax benefits, she noted, but also pointed out that pensions are growing increasingly more costly to administer, with costs tripling since 1981. As a result, she said, 64% of companies with fewer than 1,000 workers dropped defined benefit plans between 1990 and 2002. For companies larger than that, 11% dropped their defined benefit plans.
Mulvey also noted that 21% of defined benefit participants are in hybrid plans that combine elements of defined-benefit and defined-contribution plans and that cater to a more mobile workforce. However, she said, many employers are not able to offer such plans because of regulatory constraints. A common criticism of hybrid plans is that they are a way for employers to cut employee benefits, but Watson Wyatt data indicate hybrid plans add costs to employers and protect older workers.
By 2020 all baby boomers will be over age 55, with strong implications for the labor markets, Mulvey said, adding that by 2010 the U.S. will experience a 6.6 % shortfall of workers which will grow to 13% in 2020. Meanwhile, many retirement plans encourage workers to leave before age 65. A study of data gathered from 50 large employers showed that women over age 55 with early retirement plans retired a year earlier than other female workers, while men with those plans left eight months earlier. If a company offers medical benefits for early retirees, the numbers increase, with women retiring 2 years earlier and men 1.5 years sooner. In companies with more restrictive medical plans, such as caps on service, there is a smaller
effect, said Mulvey.
Still, even with a labor shortage looming, employers are reluctant to change their incentive plans, particularly for those closest to retirement. Rather than cut early retirement benefits, Mulvey suggested that employers consider two incentives – elder care programs to help assist with the care of older relatives, and phased retirement programs that allow older workers to cut back on their hours without losing benefits. Of those surveyed, 25% of the women who retired early were responsible for caring for an older relative, she noted. “These are the softer side of benefits, but they matter and they’re not too costly to implement.” While men seemed less responsive to phased retirement programs, Mulvey said many men are retiring early and returning to their employers on a contract basis.
Comparing Pension Benefits
Workforce issues could have broader economic implications, according to Steven A. Nyce, senior retirement research associate with the Research and Information Center of Watson Wyatt Worldwide. “If we do not find enough workers and if productivity is not high enough, it’s likely companies will not be able to meet the consumption in society and the result will be higher inflation … For decades on end we have enjoyed prosperous growth,” he said. “What’s going on in outsourcing is some of the reaction to the labor shortage and it might mitigate some of the inflation down the road.”
David McCarthy, a researcher and faculty member at Imperial College in London, studied the portfolio value of pension plan types. He said there are three economic perspectives at play in determining occupational pension type: labor market conditions, portfolio theory and corporate finance, which is most relevant for defined benefit plans. Laws and taxes also play a role, but they add so much complexity he left them out of the model. “The optimal pension choice is influenced by all three areas,” said McCarthy. “Companies need to take both the labor-market effects and the employee-portfolio effects into account when designing compensation strategies.” For many people in the U.S. and other countries, their pension is an extremely important asset, up to 40% to 60% of their total assets, he added.
Economists have developed life-cycle models that indicate defined benefit plans are less desirable for younger workers than for older employees. McCarthy compared pension benefits to being paid in movie tickets. He said he usually goes to two movies a month, so the first two tickets would be worthwhile. The third ticket, and those paid to him after that. would have less value. The same would be true of pension benefits; at a certain point they become less meaningful.
But where is that point? McCarthy developed a model to measure the effects of various pension plans, although he cautioned that his work does not take into account two large sources of pension risk in defined-benefit plans – early separation and employer insolvency. “Results indicate that even for the most generous DB (defined benefit) pensions offered to younger workers, required productivity increases are small from the point of view of lifetime income, but large relative to the value of the pension. However, for older workers and less generous DB pensions, the required productivity increases are small relative to both the cost of the pension and lifetime income,” McCarthy’s paper states.
Donald Elbaum, director of actuarial studies in the treasurer’s office of Ford Motor Co., said the idea of reducing early retirement subsidies is gaining ground in national pension plans around the world and in private schemes. The changes have been driven largely by cost as retirees live longer. “In the U.S. there are some regulatory obstacles that could present themselves in trying to reduce early retirement benefits already accrued. To some degree your hands are tied.” To change the packages for future employees would require that companies strike a balance between flexibility and the ability to select certain employees for the benefits without violating non-discrimination rules.
Elbaum also said researchers may want to consider how the current boom in offshore employment may impact the economy and pensions, and he pointed out that the tightening of the labor pool will first manifest itself among younger workers. “When someone retires at Ford we don’t replace them with someone coming in the door. In some sense, the first battleground will be trying to find strategies for retention of employees in the early years when turnover is high.”
According to Elbaum, defined benefit plans are not highly valued by younger workers. He said Ford took that into account when it closed its 50-plus early retirement program to new employees, replacing those benefits with a cash plan. Structuring employment to allow more part-time work might keep some people in the workforce, he said, but it might also provide incentives for people who would have worked full-time to cut back.
Mulvey suggested that employers who have been intent on reducing costs and cutting workers during the past years of slow economic growth need to look ahead and plan for a different future. “We try to know what’s down the road,” added Elbaum. “At the same time, it’s hard to keep a bench workforce in waiting. We’re measured against our competitors. We have to make sure we are staffed appropriately.”
And if workers are not available in the U.S., Ford has options overseas. “As a global company we do have alternate locations available,” he said. “That’s not to say this is our strategy, but it’s something we grapple with.”
- The dual-career truth is that it just isn't working, pointer summary (to D1), WSJ, front page.
Revisiting 5 families profiled years ago shows how stressed-out couples are seeking alternatives to the full-time two-career model.
[target article -]
The juggling act revisited - A columnist checks back in with five families struggling to balance work and life, by Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, D1.
USA - Since I started writing this Work & Family column 13 years ago, many dual-career parents have faced a hard reality:
It isn't working.
Ovewhelmed by the stress, and concerned that their children are suffering, couples are backing away from their old juggling-acts-on-steroids and overhauling their lives - and not only by having mom stay home with the kids. More dads are staying home as well. Today, dual-earners are declining as a percentage of married-couple families with kids under 18, and both at-home dads and at-home moms have risen to the highest levels since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking the data 10 years ago.
I revisited five couples I profiled in the mid-1990s to explore the changes, and found yet another twist. In a new trend toward family flux, most of the couples have come up with creative, changeable alternatives to the full-time dual-career model.
The five couples have altered their work-and-child care steps [an average of twice each], swapping full-time work for at-home parenting, part-time work or at-home self-employment. Couples are no longer picking one "family type" and sticking to it.
Here are their stories.
[We just give the 3 that fit the title and intro -]
- Quitting for the kids
...When I profiled Rick Mauntel and his wife Barbara in 1996, the Phoenix couple were the consummate dual earners, working together at Motorola, Rick an engineer and Barbara in various staff jobs. They kept in touch via coded pager signals and handed off child-care duties like a skilled relay team.
But Barbara became increasingly worried that their older child, Jeffrey, had had too many different child-care settings. All the changes, she says, "created some insecurities in him." Their second child, Jillian, had more stable child care.
Stressed out and restless at work, Barbara also wanted to be more involved with the kids. "I felt cheated," she says. "Why should the nanny hear everything?"
Barbara asked for and got more job flexibility at Motorola, and in 1998, she switched to part-time work. But she still talked about quitting. Rick encouraged her to stay, in part because they needed the money to meet their financial goals.
But a couple of years later, Barbara took matters into her own hands..\.. Lunching with a friend at work, Rick wasn't expecting to get a pager signal that would change his life. [He handed] the pager to his friend. "Wow!" the friend said. "Your wife quit!"...
"My first thought," Rick says of the moment he saw the page, "was that we haven't figured out how to handle this from a family-income perspective." For him, the realization, "I'm the main breadwinner"...was a big one.
Rick...has grown content with the change. "Mom being home is much better...for the kids [and] mom too."... There have been financial stresses. Barbara drives a 7-year-old car [WHAT a sacrifice - not], the family has less spending money, and they take fewer vacations. But they say the damage hasn't been as bad as they feared....
Jeffrey, now 12 years old, seems to be doing fine. He...gets good grades and loves having his mom home....
- Trading off
...All the rushing around John Morrissey and his wife Chris Young did as full-time dual-career parents [involved] commuting to downtown Chicago \for both parents.\ I profiled them in 1995 when John...quit his job as a state-government attorney to become a stay-at-home dad - a relative novelty at the time.
[1995? Not really.]
Today, John has returned to work running a construction business and it is now Chris's turn to cut back, to part-time hours as an attorney for the federal government. The role swaps have enabled both to be close to their children. They still worry, though, about how all the rushing around they did...affected their oldest child, Liam, now 14.
"We were getting up at 5:30 am to rush him hinto his snowsuit and get to the daycare center," Chris says. To this day, she says, "Liam is more hyper and rushed and hard on himself." She and John arrived one day at Liam's daycare center to find him strapped into a chair and left to cry. That incident helped prompt John's decision to stay home for a few years.
[Ya gotta wonder, why it is that every few generations humans get an attack of stupidity and have to learn basic common sense all over again.]
Chris sees a deep imprint from early care on all her kids. Fallon, 10, who was at home with her father the most, is calm and affectionate. "She had a steadfastness, a certain security that Liam didn't have," says Chris, and she is very close to her father. Clare, 6, was born after John returned to work and turns more to Chris....
- Back from the brink
...Lisa Yee and her husband Scott Feldmann...first appeared in my column in 1999 as an example of couples' timing pregnancies to avoid giving birth on a job deadline. They worked together at an Orlando FL design firm they cofounded, and their second baby, Benny, was born about three months before a project was due.
But for Lisa, the shock of reading her story in a portrayal of what she regarded as "career-obsessed women," she says, "made me think, 'Wow, what am I doing?' " Leaving Benny at daycare upset her too. She began cutting back her hours to be with the kids and pursue a writing career at home.
She changed roles again, however, when the death of Scott's sister in a helicopter crash left him reeling with grief. Lisa stepped back into the business full-time. But, separated too much from the kids and her new work, she was miserable..\.. Their marriage [was] near the breaking point....
"One day I said to Scott, 'You know, I can't do this any more.' We had a heart-to-heart, and I thought he was going to get angry. But his reaction was quite the opposite. He said, 'What do you need to do?' " The couple agreed that Scott would manage the business and Lisa would return to the kids and her writing....
Eventually, Scott and Lisa closed their Orlando firm and relocated to South Pasadena CA near Lisa's parents, where Scott is starting a new business. Lisa is writing, and Benny, now 7, and Kate, 12, can spend more time with their grandparents....
6/01/2004 primitive timesizing & worktime consciousness in the news = glimmers of strategic hope - all are 5/31 from GoogleNews & searched-screened-collected by Alan Applebaum (AA) of Brookline MA, and excerpts [and comments] are by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -
- Families 'want time, not payoffs', Melbourne Herald Sun [Australia].
A Post-Budget poll shows Australians want more family friendly hours and don't see a boost in family payments as the answer to their problems, the ACTU said today.
ACTU secretary Greg Combet said the poll backed the union's test case in the Industrial Relations Commission seeking flexible working hours and holiday times.
The Newspoll, taken in capital cities between May 21 and 23, asked people what would be most useful in balancing work and family.
An increase by the Government in family benefits was favoured by 11.1% of respondents.
Other measures like more family flexible hours, time off work for family emergencies and a choice for parents to work part time were chosen by 65.5 of those polled. A further 21.5% favoured more government help for childcare.
Mr Combet said the poll showed families wanted time together more than government payouts and showed the Howard Government had missed the mark with its big spending budget. "It shows that policy solutions not pay-offs are what voters are looking for and that work and family remains fertile ground for the major parties in the upcoming election," he said.
- More vacations could mean better health, by David F. Brown, UPI via Comtex via Good Housekeeping Magazine.
WASHINGTON... - As Americans fight highway traffic and flood crowded vacation destinations this summer, they could be improving their health.
In spite of the stress that summer vacations can sometimes cause, taking vacations is increasingly linked with healthy lifestyles, according to Dr. Mel Borins. Borins, author of "Go Away: Just for the Health of It," encourages people to take as much time for vacations as possible.
"Taking a vacation is one of the best ways I know to break the pattern of daily stress," Borins said. As a practicing physician and professor at the University of Toronto School of Medicine, Borins has seen countless cases of the positive effects of vacations on health. "A great majority of people [returning from vacations] report feeling rejuvenated," he said.
The anecdotal evidence Borins presents in his book is backed up by medical research. "Vacations may not only be enjoyable but also health promoting," according to a study by Brooks Gump and Karen Matthews, professors of psychology and psychiatry respectively, published in 2000 by "Psychosomatic Medicine." The study examined data from a nine-year trial of middle-aged men who were at high risk for heart disease.
Gump and Matthews found that men who took frequent vacations were more likely to live longer than those who didn't.
Elaine Eaker, a doctor and president of Eaker Epidemiology Enterprises in Chili, Wisconsin, said there is increasing evidence that social, cultural and psychological factors affect people's physical health. "There is certainly a body of evidence that has been building over the years," she said, including her work on the Framingham Heart Study, a groundbreaking study of heart disease which began in 1948.
Eaker's 1992 follow-up study of Framingham subjects showed that women who vacationed regularly were less likely to suffer heart attacks or die from coronary disease that those who rarely vacationed.
Eaker cautioned that no studies have conclusively linked vacations to better health, although "the picture is becoming clearer," she said.
For Borins, reducing stress through vacationing is vital to anyone who wants to live a longer, healthier life. "It's a crisis in the United States," Borins said of increasing working hours and shrinking vacations.
But taking vacations is not always easy for Americans. The United States is the only developed nation in the world that does not guarantee citizens paid vacation leave. Most European countries require employers to provide workers with five weeks paid vacation each year.
Joe Robinson is trying to tackle this discrepancy through social activism. Robinson is the author of "Work to Live: The Guide to Getting a Life," and is leading a campaign to institute a mandatory minimum vacation law in the United States.
"Burnout leaves people shells of themselves-unproductive," Robinson said of what he calls the growing problem of Americans overworking themselves.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21% of Americans working in the private sector did not receive any paid vacation in 2003.
But employers often have a hard time getting workers to use the vacation time they have, said Mary Tavarozzi of Towers Perrin, a human resources consulting firm. "[Employers] want people to take their time off so they are rejuvenated," said Tavarozzi, who heads Towers Perrin's absence and disability consulting arm.
Tavarozzi said companies are moving toward more flexible leave policies rather than the traditional practice of separate days off for vacation, sickness and holidays.
The concept is called a paid time-off bank, which lumps all leave days into a single category to be used at the employee's discretion. The result in some cases would be a total number of leave days that match the generous vacation policies of the European model, Tavarozzi said.
But small businesses may have a hard time offering weeks of leave time to workers. "They don't know how to do vacations," Robinson said of small business owners. This can be addressed with more cross-training and a little planning, he said.
Borins agrees that a little ingenuity could go a long way toward increasing vacation time for American workers. "Countries like France and Germany and Sweden don't seem to fall apart because they take five weeks vacation a year," he said.
So how should Americans spend what vacation days they have? "The more vacations the better, the longer the vacations the better," Borins said, citing research that vacations of 10 days or more are most effective at reducing stress levels.
"Sometimes it takes two or three days just to leave the world behind," he said.
But for workers who cannot afford to take long vacations, even short ones can be rejuvenating, Borins said. "Money is a big factor, yet there are very cheap ways to travel and get away," Borins said, citing camping and bus trips as inexpensive travel alternatives.
Robinson said workers can often negotiate for more vacation time. The key is convincing employers that a well-rested employee is ultimately more productive.
"Creativity, ingenuity, and innovation come from free time, not from straining yourself," he said.
- More employers offer flexible scheduling, Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune.
More American workers want to be like Christina Bilotta.
A senior audit manager at KPMG in Minneapolis, Bilotta negotiated a part-time schedule about a year ago with her supervisors, after her son, Tyler, was born. “I’m 30, I’ve worked hard at my career, and I want to keep working, but I also wanted time with my son,” Bilotta said. She works about 70% of the time time and plans to stick to that while she and her husband, Michael, have young children.
“It has made a major change in my life,” she said. “It’s important to me to be a good career woman, and a good mother and wife, and this helps.”
There’s a growing appetite for flex time among U.S. workers. And flexible work schedules are among the most important forces behind productive and happy workplaces, according to a study, “When Work Works,” released by the Families & Work Institute, a research agency based in New York.
For companies, flexible work schedules will become one of the most potent recruitment tools to attract and retain talent as a recovering economy bids up demand for workers.
“I think we will increasingly work flexibly for a variety of reasons, including commuting times, office space and costs, family situations and just because technology makes it so much easier to do,” said Ellen Galinsky, institute president and co-author of the report.
“I don’t think it will necessarily be a smooth path; old management assumptions — presence equals productivity — die hard,” Galinsky said. “But if it’s well done, it is win-win.”
The versatility of flexible scheduling suits the many interests of a diverse workforce, from younger employees with family demands to older veterans who wish to taper their workloads heading into retirement, Galinsky said. It costs employers little, once they have learned how to institute the options and manage flexibly. Paying two sets of benefits for employees who job-share, or covering an employee on leave, will cost money, Galinsky said. But it can cost less than the alternatives, which could include recruiting and retraining new hires.
Also, while employees still rank health care as the most important benefit, flexibility is among the top predictors of a satisfied and productive workforce, workplace surveys regularly show.
Galinsky said institute research shows, for example, that 28% of younger workers plan to take time off for children and 57% of older workers want to work part time. Challenging stereotypes, the survey showed that 70% of men want flex time; so do 68% of the nonparents.
The state of flexibility in today’s workplaces is less clear. In the institute’s survey, 43% of 3,500 workers polled said their places of employment are flexible: up from 29% from 1992 to 2002. But it also said that two in every five people with flexibility options are afraid that using them would jeopardize their careers.
On the other hand, a survey of 600 employers shows they have cut their flexibility offerings during the past two years: a drop in flex time from 64% to 55%, and compressed work weeks from 33 to 31%. That annual benefits survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows the 2003 levels were about the same as in 1999.
The big differences show up when comparing jobs, a 2001 Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicates. Almost half of managers and professionals said they have schedule flexibility, compared with 18% for production workers and 20% for mechanics. Most of the flexibility they reported was informal, not part of an employer-sponsored program. Also, more men than women report flexible schedules, possibly because of their greater numbers in the more-flexible higher levels of employment.
At KPMG, Bilotta said she appreciates that her reduced schedule doesn’t change her status in the company, where she has been for nine years.
- Challenge to Tories on work rights, by Martin Shipton, The Western Mail via ic Wales [UK].
Labour Euro-MP Eluned Morgan last night challenged Wales' Tories to reveal whether they still plan to strip voters of their rights in the workplace. Ms Morgan was speaking after a visit to Axiom Manufacturing, which employs 180 people at its Newbridge factory making high-quality audio systems for UK and European export markets.
Ms Morgan said, "Thanks to Labour-backed EU measures, three million part-time workers had the right to paid holiday for the first time last year. I've met many people on the campaign trail, especially in the catering trade, enjoying paid time off for the first time.
"It is also thanks to the EU that no-one can be forced to work more than 48 hours a week.
"Jonathan Evans and his Tory MEPs voted against these rights. Michael Howard has bitterly criticised them, saying they would lose us jobs. Yet, since we signed the Social Chapter [of the EU membership agreement presumably], 1.9 million more jobs have been created in Britain.
"The challenge Welsh Labour is making to the Tories in Wales is simple. Are they planning to force Welsh workers to put in more than 48 hours a week? Are they going to take away young mothers' maternity rights? Are they going to strip people of their entitlements to paid holidays?"
Axiom congratulated Ms Morgan for her work on the European Parliament's environment committee, saying two particular EU laws had opened up business opportunities.
Ms Morgan said, "Businesses often portray EU laws as a problem, whereas Axiom positively embraces two of the laws passed by my committee. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive is actually bringing business into Axiom."
Tory Euro MP Jonathan Evans responded, "Eluned Morgan should clarify for us whether she still disagrees with Tony Blair that Britain should retain its opt-out over the EU law that forbids workers from working more than 48 hours a week. "Ending the opt-out would be catastrophic for British business and British workers, as even Tony Blair recognises. It would cost firms billions and deprive many workers of enhanced overtime payments. "Yet Eluned Morgan and Glenys Kinnock oppose the opt-out
because they are obliged to as members of the Socialist group."
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