Spring 2023 Progress Report: Women's Career Advancement
As Women's History Month comes to a close, we continue to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women in the workplace, and also reflect on what their work experience has been like over the past year.
Some bright spots are apparent - women's overall employment is rebounding after steep pandemic losses and employers are increasingly investing in supporting their needs across life stages. Yet disparities persist and much work remains to be done when it comes to wages, advancement and well-being, particularly for mothers, women leaders, and women of color. Continue reading.
2023 Trends: One Size Does Not Fit All
In 2023, one size does not fit all when it comes to developing talent, managing new ways of working, and supporting employee well-being. Flexible work is here to stay - and it’s a key strategy for leaders and managers trying to rebuild company cultures that can attract and retain in-demand talent. Employee expectations remain high for a person-centric workplace that prioritizes well-being and a commitment to DEI initiatives. Economic uncertainty, demands for transparency, and a boom in data analytics together will challenge and enable employers to craft, measure, and course-correct strategies that promote both a superior employee experience and high-performance outcomes. Continue reading.
2022 Year in Review
It’s time to recap a busy year, where employers have been challenged like never before to embrace and redefine new ways of working, meet the needs of a more diverse and far flung workforce, and provide leadership and support amid increasingly uncertain social and economic conditions. A tall order for our dedicated Roundtable members to be sure — and the Center has tried to meet these challenges with a record number of benchmarking, networking and learning opportunities.We were thrilled to see so many of you just a few weeks ago at our Fall Roundtable meeting in Boston — our first in-person event in three years! What a robust exchange with experts on everything from flexible work to navigating identities at work and what’s next in mental health in the workplace. Continue reading.
Promoting Employee Wellbeing: Change Demands, Remove Barriers
September is always a busy month and this year it was particularly busy for the Center and our members. For many organizations, this September has meant a renewed push to return to the office and codify new ways of working - with an eye toward (re)building company culture and social connections and enabling a healthy work-life balance. Continue reading.
Employers: Jacks of All Trades?
As we revisit our 2022 Trends, we continue to see employees redefine their relationship to work and demand greater work-life balance from their employers. Despite inflation reaching a 40-year high in June, job growth continues to be strong and many employers are scaling back return to office plans and offering flexible work and perks to attract and retain employees.
Employers are also expected more than ever to respond to external events and play a role in issues like climate change, economic inequality, and social injustice. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, business is by far the most trusted institution and nearly 60% of employees expect their CEOs to take a stand on societal issues. Continue reading.
Father's Day 2022: Why dads still don't achieve equality on caregiving
This Father’s Day marks the 12th year that the Boston College Center for Work & Family has been working to better understand the experiences of today’s working fathers. Over this time, we have published numerous reports, book chapters and journal articles aimed at helping the public and employers better understand the experience of today’s dads, especially with regard to work and family. Our research has focused mainly on the experiences of “white collar” fathers and we have studied a broad range of issues including the transition to fatherhood, at-home dads, millennial fathers, generational differences in fathering, and men’s attitudes about and utilization of parental leave. Continue reading.
A Look Ahead: Workforce Challenges and Trends
Over the past two tumultuous years, our Center has dramatically altered our value delivery system in order to meet the needs of our corporate partners, many of the country’s most respected employers, during a time of unparalleled change. In March of 2020, we switched to virtual offerings in order to meet member needs, and were able to do so while continuing a very high level of member satisfaction and engagement.
In spite of the lack of face-to-face contact, we maintained a clear focus and set of offerings by picking objectives that mirrored the concerns of our organizational members. We focused on three issues that were the critical and urgent concerns of those employers. First, was the challenge of addressing race in the workplace which came to the forefront following the killing of George Floyd. Second was striving to achieve gender equality which had always been a mainstream concern for the work-family field. But COVID’s impact on working women / caregivers made this more challenging than ever as women took on the lionshare of not only caregiving but also homeschooling through most of 2020 and 2021. Continue reading.
The Burnout Conundrum
Benjamin Franklin was talking about fires when he famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But he could have been talking about burnout. Burnout, like many mental health issues, is growing at an alarming rate and driving employees to leave their jobs in significant numbers. Employers are grappling with the toll it is taking on those left behind and how to address it.
In a 2021 Visier survey of over 1,000 US employees, 89% reported experiencing some burnout in the past year, 70% would leave their organization for one offering resources to reduce burnout, and flexible work hours were valued more than any other benefit. But what should these resources and benefits look like? And how do you get employees, who are already overworked and overwhelmed, to talk about burnout and utilize what you are offering? Continue reading.
Is the 'Great Quit' really happening and why?
Over the summer and early fall as COVID seemed to be winding down, the terms “the Great Resignation” and “the Big Quit” entered the scene. As the economy began to move toward reopening, there was a new concern for organizations to contend with. Would employees return to work and the office? Anecdotal evidence suggested that many employees would opt not to return in person, and if required to, would choose to either (a) leave their present employer or (b) possibly leave the workforce altogether. Read more on LinkedIn.
Returning to normal and the office? I’m not so sure
As August approached I was looking forward to a return to campus and teaching my fall class to our University’s seniors. I had the foresight (i.e. blind luck) to not commit to teaching in the 2020-2021 academic year and was happy to have dodged that bullet. The course I teach is a highly personal and interactive one and I couldn’t imagine fostering the same connections for the class while we were all masked and socially distant. But just a couple of weeks ago while prepping for class, looking forward to seeing my colleagues at the Center in-person, and discarding the masks that were scattered everywhere on the home front, life took yet another unexpected turn. Read more on LinkedIn.
As the world reopens, how are we?
On Tuesday for the first time in nearly a year, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported zero deaths from the Coronavirus. After what has been one of the longest and darkest of winters, at least emotionally, we are seeing the signs of the past year’s burden being lifted. Life is returning to a semblance of normalcy, restaurants and bars are opening, and we can gather with vaccinated friends and family, indoors or out.
In spite of this feeling of relief, people I speak with and articles I read often discuss a malaise many of us are feeling at present. Not depressed perhaps, but something short of the joie de vivre we felt before the pandemic. In a recent widely read and shared NY Times OpEd, Wharton’s Adam Grant described this feeling as “languishing.” Read more on LinkedIn.
The Lessons of 2020
It has been a rough year by almost any standard, and on almost every front. We have experienced disequilibrium fueled by a global pandemic and the turbulence it has created for work, schools and families, an unprecedented response to racialized violence and a call for equity and justice for Black Americans, an economic meltdown in many industries bringing unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and the demise of many small businesses, and sharp increases in mental health challenges and addiction.
A year ago, this all would not have seemed possible. We took a lot for granted. Going to work, kids off to school, visiting our parents, going shopping, dining out, holiday family gatherings, and enjoying the company of friends were luxuries many of us didn’t fully appreciate until they were taken away. Read more on LinkedIn.
Challenging Men to Step Up: This is Our Moment
As we enter month nine of the shutdown, there is finally some reason for optimism. Two major drug companies, Pfizer and Moderna, are reporting very high rates of effectiveness with their vaccines in clinical trials. While too early to declare success, the likelihood that these vaccines will be released by year’s end suggest that we may be on our way to defeating this terrible virus that has cost far too many Americans their lives and far more their livelihood. This good news is beyond welcome in a year that has seen far more than its share of bad news. Read more on LinkedIn.
The Ultimate Test of Work & Family: A Year Without Child Care
Each day it seems, a host of articles are published about school and day care closures, how parents will be able to manage their jobs while caring for and facilitating the learning for their children, and the long-term impact of all of this on women’s careers. There is an endless stream of thoughtful commentary examining the issue from different perspectives - employers, community, school systems and parents.
As the pandemic spread and the quarantine began, parents who were fortunate to have job flexibility were somehow getting through day by day working from home, caring for their children, monitoring their schooling, and putting in endless days to get it all done. Read more on LinkedIn.
If We Look for Common Ground, We'll Find It
2020 has been a year like no other. Never has there been a time when our entire country sheltered in place to avoid the onslaught of an unknown virus. Yet in spite of the measures taken, over 110,000 Americans and more than 400,000 people worldwide have succumbed to Covid-19 in just a few short months. And as we faced this health crisis, the actions aimed at limiting its impact resulted in the worst employment meltdown in American history with over 40 million individuals losing their jobs. As always, the hardest hit were those who could least afford it.
There was a moment at the end of May when I remember thinking, “It can’t possibly get worse.” Then Minneapolis happened. Read more on LinkedIn.
Returning to the Workplace: Navigating the Hazy Medium-Term
It has been a busy few weeks at the Center for Work & Family with conversations and concerns among BC Workforce Roundtable Members not surprisingly focused on returning to the workplace. While weeks ago the dominant theme was managing the transition to remote work, now both employees and leaders are planning and preparing for a return to the workplace. But huge uncertainty and very real barriers to returning persist: a lack of child care, still-evolving protocols to ensure safe work environments, a fear of returning among employees, and above all the trajectory of the virus and the local public health conditions, which will dictate when a phased re-opening can take place for employers. Read more on LinkedIn.
What the Pandemic Has Taught Us About What is Essential
For the first 20 years of my career, I worked in corporate roles in human resources, quality improvement and management education. While my roles were interesting and, I believe, impactful for the organizations I worked in, I always felt that my contributions were a bit out of the mainstream. After all, I wasn’t engaged in the core mission of those businesses - making, selling or supporting the organization’s products and services.
For the last 20 years, I’ve dedicated myself to directing the Boston College Center for Work & Family and teaching students at our university. The genesis of the Center resulted from the large influx of women entering into professional and managerial roles in corporate America in the mid-late 1980’s. At that time the work of the center focused on issues such as child care and flexible work options. Read more on LinkedIn.
A Missing Ingredient in Our Messy New Reality: Flexibility
For nearly two decades now at the Boston College Center for Work & Family, we have studied the issue of flexibility and remote work and collaborated with organizations on the development of their flexible work programs. The very first concepts I introduce when speaking with individuals or groups are the two most common components of flexibility: flextime and flex place. The concepts are pretty self-explanatory: flex time refers to when you get your work done and flex place refers to where.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been asked to help organizations and their people adjust to new emergency remote work requirements. As with any drastic and unexpected change, all parties -- employees, managers, and leaders -- have been experiencing some bumps in the road with this transition. Add to the mix that for most parents, caregiving support, whether through daycare, schools, or babysitters, is no longer available. Employees whose caregiving responsibilities and home life were mostly invisible to the workplace are now feeling exposed, vulnerable, and overwhelmed. Read more on LinkedIn.
Adapting to a Remote Workplace
Well, it’s been a month like no other. I hope that you are staying healthy and, like all of you, I pray this terrible crisis passes soon.
Because of the outbreak of Coronavirus many employees have been asked, or more likely told, to work from home for the coming weeks (or possibly months). While work from home programs are the norm in many organizations today, for others this is a new undertaking. History has shown that organizations that have developed the competencies to manage a remote workforce are in the best position to maintain business continuity when a crisis strikes - think 9/11 or Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy. Read more on LinkedIn.