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Monday, March 30, 2009

Work-Life Balance: Changing Attitudes

I loved watching reruns of "The Donna Reed Show" as a kid. (If you're unfamiliar, just think of it as the poor man's "Leave it to Beaver.") The father was a doctor who practiced out of his own home, so certainly no work-life balance issues there. And he never had to lift a finger thanks to his wife, Donna, who turned housewifery into an Olympic sport.

The real world, as we all know, is quite different; balancing personal and professional obligations can be a source of enormous stress. But a new survey from the Families and Work Institute reveals some encouraging new trends.

Although more men report feeling the stress of work-life issues than in the past, their attitudes are becoming more progressive. For the first time, a minority believe that it's better "if the man earns the money and the woman takes care of the home and children." Women's perspectives are changing, too: whether or not they have children, women under age 29 are now just as likely as men to want jobs with greater responsibility.

For wellness professionals and management, I think a paradigm shift is needed. Both men and women are struggling to balance work and family, and we need to be responsive when they ask for help. Giving them flexibility will reduce stress and increase productivity in the long run.

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