WorkLife: What it means for employees and supervisors
"If you treat employees as if they make a difference to the company, they will make a difference to the company." - SAS Corporation
The term 'work/life' means different things to different people, but it starts with a point of view that treats the employee as a valuable resource. To do this, resources and services are needed to provide employees a way to successfully manage the confluence of their personal and professional lives.
Today's workforce is different than it was 30 years ago. Today's realities make it difficult to separate the job from personal life. As a result, the field of WorkLife practice has evolved out of new workplace realities contemporary work and personal life issues.
Emerging business realities are that we are doing more with less and our organizations are constantly changing. Our workforce is more diverse with a variety of family relationships, generations, cultural heritages, languages, educational backgrounds, and work ethics. Our current technology leads to stressful situations where we have to do more at a faster pace with the use of e-mail, voice mail, fax, cell phones, and pagers. We are working differently and are doing different work.
Our personal realities are that life events come to work. Life events may be relationship issues, childcare, substance abuse, health/wellness, eldercare, financial, or grief and loss. Just as we take our work home with us, so do we bring our personal lives to work. We all have unique human emotions, needs, and concerns ' the need for recognition, appreciation, concern for our kids, worries about our mortgage, and thoughts about our place in this world. We cannot separate work and life, but need to appreciate that this dual concern exists in the workplace.
We have expected levels of productivity and performance against which we evaluate employees. While most of them function above this level, they may fluctuate when personal life issues happen (see graphic). When personal life events overwhelm an employee, performance will falter. If the employee's work environment appreciates the challenges of life events ' the employee is supported by their supervisor, work/life services, or human resources policies ' they have a safety net. Their performance may fluctuate, but it is likely to regain its usual and expected levels.
If there is neither appreciation nor support, the employee will struggle and improvise a safety net. Recovery is lengthy and exhausting; sometimes performance levels are eventually regained, but many times they are not and the employee either terminates or is terminated. Workforce diversity, diversity awareness, and the blending of work and life in the workplace impact the business' bottom line, and so we seek to create a workplace which accommodates this diversity and uses it to accomplish business goals.
WorkLife Programs at Purdue offers many different programs and services to assist supervisors and employees with integrating their work and personal life. WorkLife Programs consists of Employee Assistance, WorkLife, and Wellness. Allowing the flexibility for employees to take advantage of WorkLife Programs services, or utilizing services as a supervisor, will help you balance and improve the productivity of your workplace. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.purdue.edu/worklife or call 49-48522.
- Mindy Paulet, director
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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors. It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually. If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us. Thank you.