People who have experienced work flexibility in their jobs will tell you that there is simply no other way to work. The ability to manage work life with family life (sans stress!) is the key to creating a stronger, healthier, and more invested workforce.
Ellen Ernst Kossek reinforces that sentiment in her “Work-Life Research” video, below. Kossek, a Basil S. Turner Professor of Management at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management and the Research Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence, is a pioneer in the field of how work and family life mesh—or in many cases, crash together.
When Kossek states that it’s a new world of work out there, she’s not kidding. With technological advancements and globalization of various industries, the face of the workplace is also changing. Gone are the days of employees working for 25+ years with the same company, only to retire with a healthy pension and benefits package. The modern workforce is filled with people who are working 60-70 hours a week. Quality is being exchanged for quantity.
Kossek found in her research into the modern workforce that workplace flexibility is a must, not only for the well-being of employees, but for companies on the whole. The mindset must shift to one of a sustainable workforce. Employers should do their best to foster the skill set, knowledge, and talent of their workers. Instead of having a high turnover rate because of employee burnout, they should look instead to have a staffer who will develop over time. The way to do this: the dynamics of work-home relationships must change.
Thing is, it’s not just employers who need to develop new tactics and strategies. Employees as well must do their part in order to achieve their own work-life success. For example, Kossek, who wrote the book CEO of Me: Creating a Life That Works in the Flexible Job Age, suggests that people who want to work remotely must learn how to self-regulate and manage their energy so they can have a positive working relationship with their bosses.
As such, employers must also be willing to accommodate their workforce’s needs, too. Employees must be offered more choices in how they can work, and how they engage with work so that their talents can be used more effectively. This is particularly true for people who are moving into second careers or wish to work part-time in retirement, where having a flex schedule could mean all the difference between having a successful work experience—or not.
But before all that, people must be cognizant of their own work styles in order for any sort of workplace flexibility to be successful. Some people are work-centric, meaning that they feel their best when they’re in the thick of deadlines. Others have a difficult time “turning off,” and will check their email as they’re cooking dinner. And the last group is able to straddle both worlds; they love their jobs as equally as they love their families, and are able to turn one off in favor of the other.
Ultimately, no matter what type of work style someone possesses, the goal is to be happy with the work-life relationship they create. This comes down to the boundaries that are made by employees and employers together. Kossek found that when people had control over their boundaries, they were able to focus on work when they were at work, and focus on family when they were at home. When employees can control their work life and their personal life, it helps their health, it greatly helps their job satisfaction, and it helps their work performance.
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