When it Comes to Work/Life Issues, Men and Women are More Alike than Different
Men and women are different in many ways. But when it comes to work/life balance issues, they apparently share several of the same concerns.
Results from a WorldatWork fall 2010 research study conflict with a previously wide-held assumption about the differences between men and women – namely, that male identity is rooted in work, while women place a higher priority on personal/family life.
Summary of Study Findings
The Global Study on Men and Work-Life Integration, conducted in November and December 2010, surveyed more than 2,300 men and women working in organizations with 500 or more employees. The international study focused on how organizations can eliminate stereotypes and barriers that prevent men from using work/life offerings, as well as what prevents organizational leaders (who are often men) from supporting the use of those offerings.
Here is a brief summary of the study findings:
- Work and Personal Identity – Identification with work is much stronger in emerging markets/countries than in developed ones.
- Managing Work and Family Life – Finding time for family is especially challenging for men; however, both men and women seek more personal time for exercise and hobbies. For both sexes, flexible work arrangements dominate the list of most valuable options for finding a healthy work/life balance.
- Financial Stress – Not surprisingly, financial stress is a top (if not the top) work/life issue across country and gender. To ease this stress, employers can: increase employee assistance programs; offer financial counseling programs; be as transparent as possible about corporate finances and job security.
- Leadership Attitudes – Business leaders around the world embrace the importance of work/life balance and have programs and policies in place to facilitate it. These efforts, however, are often ineffective because managers still believe that the “ideal worker” is an employee with few personal commitments. In fact, half of managers in emerging markets, and four in 10 managers in developed markets, believe that the most productive employees are those with few personal commitments.
According to Kathie Lingle, WLCP, executive director of WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress, “Working men and women around the world seek the same holy grail: success in both their work and family lives. The assumption that male identity is rooted in work and not family is a major impediment to the effective integration of employees’ work and family lives.”
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