By Cindy Krischer Goodman
Would you speak up if an employee or peer were working himself close to a hospital stay, or maybe even to death?
It’s a query I raised earlier this year, and one that drew lots of reader reaction. As I look over the workplace trends I wrote about in 2014, it is apparent that struggle for balance has become an increasing challenge.
Because we live in a culture that applauds overwork, stories of bosses or peers working themselves to death or collapsing of exhaustion force us to look at what has become the new normal.
In a Sept. 30 column, I noted that many of us hesitate to speak up when we see a bleary-eyed co-worker reach for another cup of coffee, looking every bit like he has slept at his desk for the past week. We resist saying something when we hear a fellow manager has postponed his vacation, again, to cater to client demands. When multiple 15-hour workdays get met with a pat on the back rather than a look of concern, we need to figure out our role in workplace well-being. Based on reader response, I foresee more intervention from those witnessing colleagues or loved ones working themselves to the brink.
Another column that drew feedback addressed men and workplace flexibility. For the past decade, men have been an afterthought in conversations about workplace flexibility. In my Nov. 4 column, I referenced a report commissioned by Working Mother that found men are exercising flexibility in their own informal way. Unlike working mothers who push for formal flexible work arrangements, working dads are using flexibility under the radar, working at home as needed to care for a sick child or shifting their hours to coach their child’s sports team.
Of the men surveyed for the Working Mother report, most said they prefer a mix of working from home and the office. With working dads taking on more childcare responsibilities, I think we will see the conversation around flexibility become broader and more relevant in most workplaces.