This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

August 29, 2001

Life Balance Issues Will Influence Job Changes

As we've discussed in our e-advisories and in our speeches, life balance is a very strong emerging issue. People don't want to work all the time; they want time to play, to relax, to enjoy relationships and activities outside work. This desire for a different kind of lifestyle will drive significant shifts in the years ahead.

Workers of all ages--married and single--with and without children--will be more concerned about their lifestyles in the years ahead. A lot of people are beginning to feel overworked and under appreciated. That sense of being under appreciated even extends to how people feel about how they're treating themselves. More workers are becoming more concerned about how they are managing their work lives and how they are managing their personal lives.

Some of the concern is the extra load placed on people who did not get laid off during the 2001 economic slowdown. The Families and Work Institute reports that of workers who remain after current downsizing efforts, 54% feel overworked, 55% feel overwhelmed by the workload, 59% lack time for reflection, 56% can't complete their assigned tasks, and 45% must "multi- task" too much. This kind of pressure is counter to desires for better life balance. The risk will remain, since we expect layoffs to continue for years as employers continue to restructure, reorganize, and streamline.

Even in organizations that have not downsized, the same problems and pressures are present. When employers cannot hire enough competent workers, and the work still has to be done, the workers who are there must assume the burden. When someone leaves for another job, a career change, a move out of town, or whatever--or is ill for just a few days, the load is spread among those who are left. With plenty of employment choices, workers who feel overloaded will attempt to escape.

Other employment may not be better, so workers will seek to strengthen balance on the personal side of their lives. They'll search for ways to find happiness in non-work activities. Insisting on better balance, people will consciously organize their personal time differently.

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