Posted in #Future, Education, Professional Experiences, Uncategorized

Women & Work-Life Initiatives

In the modern world, a larger percentage of women work outside of the home than ever before resulting in unique demands from work and home.  While the contributions these women make to their families financially have changed, the amount of responsibility for their homes and families are often still higher than their partners.  For many women the demands of their household conflict with the demands of their professional lives making the work-life balance more challenging than ever before.  Due to these increased demands on women for work-life balance, it is necessary for the field of human resources to implement work-life balance initiatives such as shared jobs and increased options for flexible hours and compensation programs to meet the growing needs of women in the workforce.

Women still play a primary role in the care of their homes and families.  One study, conducted by Schiebinger and Gilmartin on female scientists in some of the top research facilities in the country, states that “…despite women’s considerable gains in science in recent decades, female scientists do nearly twice as much housework as their male counterparts” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 39).  Although this study only researched women in the science field, the trends of women completing more domestic tasks than their heterosexual partners is relatively consistent throughout the history of women in the workplace.

The impacts of higher levels of stress and demands from home have challenging and detrimental effects on the workplace as well as the workforce.  Workers who cannot find a work-life balance struggle with “higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, reduced productivity,decreased job satisfaction, lower levels of organizational commitment and loyalty, [and] rising health care costs” (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 39). These issues lead to businesses losing some of their best work and result in further issues for businesses that could have been solved through work-life balance initiatives. For female workers especially, who are often primary caregivers for their children and responsible for a large part of the daily functions of their homes, these initiatives are particularly important.

Women are socially expected to be present at their children’s functions, keep up with their housework, care for their aging parents and “drop everything” when their spouses or family need them.  When women do not meet these expectations, they often feel a sense of push back from the people around them, including other women in the workplace.  This idea of being everything for everyone leads to a challenging conundrum when women are working outside of the home; how can businesses help women find a balance between their careers and their lives?

Some organizations have begun taking this into account through programs such as job sharing.  Unlike flex time positions which may still require full time hours condensed into a smaller work week and part time positions, which provide limited benefits and often make it difficult for professional advancement, job sharing allows for more full time benefits and opportunities while still providing coverage and scheduling flexibility (Kane, 28).  For women in job sharing roles, Kane found that women were happier in their positions, had a better overall sense of well-being and had a better sense of balance in their lives.

The well-being of employees and their families and the impact that household demands have on women may also be combated through additional services and benefits being offered by employers.  In combination with more flexible hours and job sharing opportunities, including benefits packages that “provide benefits to support housework” (Schiebinger & Gilmartin, 40) and offering additional benefits and assistance in times of need or stress may be a solution for improving work-life balance for women.  “Employer recognition, acknowledgement, and understanding of these challenges, coupled with effective support programs can be invaluable in helping employees cope successfully,” particularly in higher stress times of need for families (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 40).

While many businesses have begun to take the concerns of all employees, the impact that work-life initiatives could have on women’s ability to juggle the demands of their lives and their careers is absolutely necessary for the improvement of women’s work conditions, general well-being, and their productivity. Schiebinger and Gilmartin proposed in their study that “…institutions provide a package of flexible benefits that employees can customize to support aspects of their private lives in ways that save time and enhance professional productivity” (40).  This flexible benefits option would be beneficial to all employees, and the customizable options would provide female workers the opportunity to build a plan which works best for them and their family’s needs.

 

These flexible benefits and scheduling hours have particular importance during times of stress for families.  In a study performed by Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, three thousand one hundred twenty-two working individuals in the United States were surveyed about what they considered to be the most stressful events in their life and explored how work-life balance initiatives must be implemented to support employees and build loyalty and productivity within the companies.  The research also provided a case study, which supported the research that by offering managerial support in times of grief or familial strain, and supporting employees with whatever time and efforts could be afforded by the business, employees were more productive and had a much larger amount of loyalty for their organization (Hobson, Delunas, & Kesic, 41).

Combining flexible benefits and scheduling options with a better understanding of the demands placed on women in developing work-life balance will benefit all employees, workplaces and our society. Work-life balance results in happier and healthier female employees who are able to focus on their work and still care for their families, resulting in better productivity and healthier, happier individuals and families.

 

Work Cited

Hobson, C.J., Delunas, L., & Kesic, D. (2001). Compelling Evidence of the Need for Corporate Work/Life Balance Initiatives: Results from a National Survey of Stressful Life-Events.  Journal of Employment Counseling, 38 (1), 38-44.

Kane, D. (1996). A Comparison of Job Satisfaction and General Well-Being for Job Sharing and Part-Time Female Employees. Guidance and Counseling. 11 (3), 27-30.

Schiebinger, L., & Gilmartin, S.K.  (2010). Housework Is An Academic Issue.   Academe, 96 (1), 39-44.

 

As originally submitted for credit at Elmira College in the Corporate & Community Education program. 

Posted in Fiction, Imagination, Professional Experiences

The Grand’s Voice

Published under M.A.Cole in the Sibyll Literary Magazine, Elmira College, 2011.

As the swell of my feelings began to rage, the murmur of the voice of my true love came sliding towards me.  It was an echo of the voice I longed for, and as I stood surrounded by the sound, I forgot the others that inhabited that room with me.  For this moment, this brief glimmer of time, they were unimportant.

I found myself shaken as the murmur became a louder, more distinct calling.  Like a lost soul searching for eternal piece, I closed my eyes and searched for the internal light that the echoing voice promised.  I bravely held my own against the sound, recognizing that the others in the room could not possibly empathize with what I was feeling.  There were no words to describe the way my emotions flowed right through my soul and uplifted my spirit into a new, more beautiful place.

The voice suddenly grew louder, and louder still as my heart began to pound.  The dull beat that my heart felt prior to this meeting was a long forgotten memory as my heart began to race.  I could not find what it was racing from: was it to keep up with the volume of the voice? My feelings of passion and love and heart ache? Or, was it the continuity of a lifetime, this same burning ache that seemed to radiate from my bones and through my flesh into something so much more important than me?

Then, something amazing happened: a chord was struck within me. I felt it hit my ears and my heart at the same precise moment.  It was the voice, “I have to go. But I’ll always be with you…”  Silently, suddenly aware of the others, I begged, Please, don’t stop! I need you. I’ve always needed you. Who will keep me safe?  No one else understands…  But the voice doesn’t listen. It continues on, and the audiences of people surrounding me seem to notice the shift in moods.  The people around me are sitting up straighter, leaning forward on the balls of their feet, waiting and watching to see what will happen next.  They don’t understand, but they can sense the change.

Finally, in a last cadential whisper, the voice draws its song to a close.  Like children, the people around me are thrilled by the intensity, even if they don’t understand.  They clap and jeer, and seem all too excited to stop hearing the voice.  My eyes water as I bid it farewell.

The pianist bows and leaves the stage.  The grand’s voice is silent for now.

Posted in #Future, Life, Professional Experiences

So it’s been a while…

The past year has been one of the most intense of my life.

I’m not trying to make excuses for not writing on here, it’s just the truth.  Every moment of the past year has been spent trying to accomplish something.  Even in the relaxing moments, things were crazy and busy and painful and intense and exciting and happy and, and, and… overwhelming.

Can you be underwhelmed? Just whelmed? I’m not sure, but I know, without a doubt, that “overwhelmed” explains my absence of blogging.  To recap:

I graduated from Elmira College with my Masters in Corporate and Community Education plus a certification in Training of Trainers AND Human Resource Development.

…and I kept my perfect GPA (not to brag, but I should get to brag a little, right?!).

I went on an AMAZING, last minute, no planning time at all trip with my parents and sister to Haiti & Jamaica and once again, fell in love with snorkeling and cruise ships.

I went on the TRIP OF A LIFETIME with my significant other to Norway, Finland, and Estonia.  Two weeks off work to travel around Europe with nothing but the man I love, a backpack, and some hiking shoes? Yes, please! Sign me up for round two!

I had a few HUGE professional successes, including growing my education program to three times its original size this year, creating holiday joy and building relationships in my office environment, bringing on additional interns from other companies for learning experiences, AND creating another entirely new and wholly successful community outreach program. (Again, sorry, bragging but I worked A LOT for this!)

I lost a few friends, made some more, reconnected with old friends and established friends in every facet of my life successfully, for the first time ever.

My little sister got her learner’s permit and my brother and his wife bought farm animals and established their own business.

My Mom fought diligently for what she believes she and other educators in her district deserved, and eventually came to an agreement at the end of a very long, multiple year battle. She’s so much more vocal and confident than she was when I was a kid, and it’s cool to see her shine and know she’s shining.

My Dad adopted more animals and people, taking employees under his wing who needed coaching and staying a constant motivator in my life.  He’s growing into someone very different, more calm and warm and encouraging, different from who he was when I was a kid, but I kind of like it.  It’s cool to see who he’s becoming too.

I learned a TON about digital media and began blogging and writing for other people. Both fun and scary.

And I experienced some of the biggest health scares related to my diabetes that I ever have.

I’m thinking that covers it.  Again, just a quick recap on everything to explain my absence…in case you were wondering.

Ideally, I’ll be able to keep up a better schedule now that school, my various trips, and my job are starting to settle down or are finished.  I’m heading to a writers’ conference in a few weeks, so ideally I’d like to share this blog if I can at that conference. We’ll see how it goes.