See-saw workers

It's not just truckers wanting more home time. A new survey by the KEYGroup Research indicates a whopping 18% of workers that's one in five plan to leave their jobs within the next year to improve their work-life balance. The pursuit of a more balanced life is certainly not a new workplace trend. But this research suggests it's picking up steam across the board. And that only reinforces how crucial

It's not just truckers wanting more home time. A new survey by the KEYGroup Research indicates a whopping 18% of workers — that's one in five — plan to leave their jobs within the next year to improve their “work-life balance.”

The pursuit of a more balanced life is certainly not a new workplace trend. But this research suggests it's picking up steam across the board. And that only reinforces how crucial this issue must be to truck drivers. It also suggests still other employees, be they dispatchers or mechanics, may be feeling work can interfere too much with their private lives, too.

The issue, counsels Joanne G. Sujansky, PhD, CEO and founder of KEYGroup, is that if your employees feel work is overpowering their personal lives, they'll likely shop around for a new job.

“We just surveyed more than 1,700 workers from all walks of life on their attitudes toward their jobs and their companies,” reports Sujansky. “And one of the most interesting findings was that almost one in five participants plans to look for a new job in 2006 — specifically because of the ‘balance’ issue.”

The Internet-based survey, commissioned by KEYGroup and conducted in December by MMC Marketing Research and Consulting, included questions on the “disconnect” between management and workers, frequency of performance feedback and the amount of unnecessary stress on the job.

The 1,727 men and women who took the survey ranged in age from 18 to 64, had varying levels of education, and lived all over the U.S. Employed in numerous occupations, the majority classified themselves as “Middle Management,” “Office & Administrative” and “Professional.”

As to the heart of the matter, 18% agreed with the statement: “In the New Year, I plan to look for another job to improve my work-life balance.”

Sujansky regards that finding alone “an early warning of a huge turnover issue soon to face the U.S. Fact is, many companies simply don't have a culture that emphasizes work-life balance. There's a prevailing attitude among employers that employees are there to work and their personal life, or lack thereof, is irrelevant. Let me bluntly say that if you think this way, it will harm your company.”

For her part, Sujansky says she pushes clients to address the balance issue. Deliberately helping employees foster a healthy work-life balance is an integral part of creating what she calls a vibrant entrepreneurial organization (VEO).

“A VEO is an organization in which all employees feel a sense of ownership for their company and their work,” she explains. “Obviously, you can't be a loyal, innovative, productive employee — one with an entrepreneurial attitude — if you're working 60-hour weeks and can't leave the office to attend your child's school play. That makes you a slave, not an owner. And slaves are always resentful of their masters.

“What I'm seeing is that the best and the brightest employees, the kind you want to have working for you, know they're in demand,” Sujansky continues. “My theory is that in difficult times, people re-think their priorities. They focus on what really matters to them.

“You must make sure your employees are fully engaged and energized,” she contends. “Treat them holistically as individuals who have lives outside the office. They'll be grateful and will reward you with their hard work and loyalty. And chances are, they won't be one of the 18% percent who, right now, are surfing career websites and calling headhunters. They'll know they have a good thing going — and so will you.”

More information on the VEO concept may be obtained on the web at: keygroupconsulting.com or joannesujansky.com.

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