Get a Life

By Judith Welles

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Get a Life: Work life re-emerging?

Are work life benefits such as telework or wellness programs a costly extra in a time when just having a job is enough?

Many articles recently have noted the withering away of work life benefits in the private sector. Some of the change is anticipatory, with employees making sacrifices before even being asked or required by their employers. 

One news report highlighted the worry of teleworkers that employers will think they don’t value their jobs if they work away from a business or office during hard economic times.  Another wrote about women who were shortening their maternity absences or seeking less time off.  

Some federal workers, aware of the increasing demands of the Recovery Act, or feeling they must work harder to help the nation during a bad time, also feel guilty about taking time off.  Working longer hours without needed breaks is a prescription for added stress on top of anything brought by the economy.  

Work life information, once prominent on the Office of Personnel Management’s agenda and home page, has been absent in recent years. But, while less visible, government work life is re-emerging with its own Web site, http://www.opm.gov/Employment_and_Benefits/worklife/. The site includes the names of designated work life coordinators in all agencies. One caveat: some of the information on the Web site is dated.

Work life benefits have always been a valuable component of government employment. Now, work life is gaining even greater importance, according to Kathie Lingle, executive director of the Alliance for Work-Life Progress because of the stress of the economy. “Employment Assistance Programs and health and wellness programs are increasing in importance and that is also true for government,” she said.

First lady Michelle Obama has expressed her personal interest in improving conditions for working families. Recently, she has demonstrated her commitment to help military families during a visit to Fort Bragg, N.C. 

As Lingle said, “Work life offers employers an opportunity to open dialogue during stressful times and demonstrate their core values by showing support for workers.”


Posted by , Judith Welles on Mar 25, 2009 at 12:12 PM


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