National Work & Family Month
by Jessica Kurzban
Congress has designated October National Work & Family Month, recognizing that reducing conflicts between work and family life is a national priority, and that "supporting a balance between work and personal life is in the best interest of national worker productivity". S. Res. 210. During this month, workplaces are encouraged to reflect on both the progress made to improving work-life balance and on what steps can be made to further this goal. As Kathie Lingle, executive director of Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP), says, dedicating a month to this important issue helps "remind both employees and employers of the exchange relationship that connects their mutual needs, interests and satisfaction." See AWLP website, available at http://awlp.org/awlp/nwfm/nwfm-home.jsp. Visit the AWLP website to learn more about National Work & Family Month, or to share how you, as an employer/employee, are recognizing/finding work-life balance.
Here are some staggering facts from the 2003 U.S. Senate resolution designating October as National Work & Family Month:
- 85% of wage and salaried workers have immediate, day-to-day family responsibilities off the job, 46% of such workers are parents with children under the age of 18 who live with them at least half-time, nearly one of every four Americans provided care for a family member or friend in the past year, and more and more Americans are faced with the challenge of caring for older parents.
- Job flexibility allows parents to be more involved, nearly all working adults are concerned about spending more time with their family, and overworked employees tend to feel less successful in their relationships with family, more stressed and less healthy, are more likely to make mistakes at work, and are more likely to feel anger and resentment toward employers and coworkers, and to look for new jobs.
- The quality of workers' jobs and the supportiveness of their workplaces are key predictors of job productivity, job satisfaction, commitment to employers, and retention, and there is a clear link between work-family policies and absenteeism.
Jessica Kurzban is Chair of the Career Development & Work Life Balance Committee. Ms. Kurzban is an attorney at Wilmer Hale.