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Recession tilts work/life balance toward more work

April 7, 2009

With the recession forcing layoffs, employees are doing all they can to keep their jobs, including giving up benefits that once allowed them to balance the demands of work and family life. As The Los Angeles Times reports, more workers are foregoing arrangements like flex time, family leave and telecommuting that might make them appear less committed to their work and therefore more expendable.

Some employee advocates are concerned about the consequences that this new workplace reality will have for women in particular. Joanne Brundage, executive director of the networking group Mothers & More, reportedly likened the current atmosphere to the one she saw 20 years ago, when working mothers were advised not to keep pictures of their children in their cubicles. “That’s what it feels like we’re returning to,” she’s quoted as saying. “Work as many hours as you possibly can. Make yourself indispensable. Don’t ever ask for anything.”

There are exceptions, the paper reports. Nortel Networks, for example, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, is trying to cut its real estate expenses by encouraging employees to work remotely. But many managers view options like flex time and telecommuting as retention tools, experts say — and in recessions, fear of unemployment is equally effective. — Compiled by Greg Beaubien for Tactics and The Strategist Online


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