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A study by professors from Harvard, Boston University and Florida State University concluded that the problem with work is longer and longer hours, and that family-friendly policies can have unintended results that especially hurt women’s careers.

“The Problem with Work is Overwork” – Toll on families and gender equalityhttp://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/upshot/the-24-7-work-cultures-toll-on-families-and-gender-equality.html?ref=todayspaper&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

In-depth interviews with employees of a prominent global consulting firm that had asked the researchers to recommend what they could do to decrease the number of women who quit and increase the number who were promoted found that men were at least as likely as women to say the long hours interfered with their family lives. And the men quit at the same rate as women. But men and women dealt with the long hours pressure in different ways.

To quote the New York Times article about the study, “The researchers said that when they told the consulting firm they had diagnosed a bigger problem than a lack of family-friendly policies for women — that long hours were taking a toll on both men and women — the firm rejected that conclusion. The firm’s representatives said the goal was to focus only on policies for women, and that men were largely immune to these issues.”

Clearly that firm (and many others) do not want to address the culture of overwork.

Perhaps if we as a society help the men by rejecting and abandoning the stereotypes and expectations about men’s commitment and roles regarding work and family, it will also substantially benefit women and gender equality.

Please share your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com



Following in Facebook’s footsteps, Apple Inc. is about to start “selling” something new. The latest announcement from Apple is getting as much attention in some quarters as the latest iPhones and iPads. Steve Jobs might even approve, since the newest perk or benefit (choose your term), also made possible by technology, seems aimed at making it easier for women to stay working longer when they are likely to be most productive and reproductive.

I am referring to the new policy of offering to pay up to $20,000 for the expensive medical procedure for women to freeze some of their eggs in the hope of achieving pregnancy at a later date. I have raised the subject of pros, cons and motivations on social media. My purpose here is not to debate that, but rather to get us thinking about what benefits or perks people of different generations want, what the employers’ motivations for offering them are, and whether the offerings really motivate people to higher performance, retention and loyalty. 

The Apple announcement quickly generated articles in major business media (New York Times and Forbes, for example and TV political talk shows)) about the specific egg freezing perk and what could be downsides of generous perks as well. But none I saw looked at the perks and benefits issues from a generational perspective.

Benefits that appeal to all generations include, among others, employer paid health insurance, free or subsidized food, on-site or paid gym memberships, concierge services and flexible work arrangements. 

Those only directly benefiting younger workers include paid maternity and paternity leave, freezing eggs, on-site and emergency childcare.

Baby Boomers, though they tend to have better attendance records, likely use their health insurance more and may have higher premiums associated with the policies. They also may make more use of benefits that cover time off or other expenses to care for elderly parents, as might older Gen Xers.

These are life cycle realities not tied to any currently labeled generation.  And in fairness, no generation should be discriminated against because of demographic and biological factors. Yet there often are stigmas or resentments related to costs of benefits, offering of perks and finger pointing across the members of multigenerational workforces. Older workers may resent that younger ones are now getting flexible work arrangements and childcare they would have loved to have, and instead they had to struggle through on their own while trying to build careers. Younger workers might argue that health care costs are higher for older workers.

Workers may wonder if some of the generous employer perks come from a stealth motivation since they can lead to the trap of working 24/7 rather than giving the workers more control over their lives. For instance, taking advantage of free or low-cost meals and various concierge services on site discourages taking breaks to reduce stress, walks for exercise and time for useful reflection.

The benefits and perks have been shown to help attract and retain people in the talent wars. However, there has been little evidence that they motivate people to work better and harder. Especially competitive people want recognition of their achievements rather than some of the perks and only team recognition.

People of all generations welcome benefits and perks and won’t turn them down. But motivations come from another source. Here are some things that motivate – generalized to generations:


Opportunities to keep learning and contributing

Being made to feel continually relevant

Making role transitions respected and appropriately compensated.

Gen X

Recognition of individual achievements

Opening paths to leadership slots

Opportunity to do things their way

Gen Y/Millennials

Having their ideas listened to

Being shown how their role is important to the whole

Providing frequent new learning experiences

For most people the above connect to intrinsic motivations – the strongest and most lasting kind – more than the latest shiny perk. Firms/organizations need to get a better grasp on what really appeals in a deeper way to the talent they covet and pursue that path.

Please send your thoughts to pwhaserot@pdcounsel.com or comment hre or on the Cross-Generational Conversation group on LinkedIn.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com  


If you’d like more flexibility for all generations in work arrangements and the criteria for how work is evaluated, raise your hand.  OK – I see you out there.

A recent national survey of 1,000 employers by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute found that while progress is being made in flexibility, facetime still counts for a lot in internal dynamics and perceptions of productivity.

The study found that organizations offer flexibility arrangements motivated by a variety of reasons:

  • 35% for employee retention
  • 14% for recruitment
  • 12% to increase productivity
  • 11% because “it’s the right thing to do”
  • 10% to support worker morale and job satisfaction.

In your opinion, what’s the best reason?


The work flexibility movement has taken steps backward since the recent recession took hold.  New research from the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed 1051 employers on 18 different flextime options and considered which were increasing and decreasing in implementation and use. Overall in less formal ways or one-offs, flexibility has increased. For example, two-thirds of responding organizations allow occasional work from home, up from 50% in 2008, and 38% allow working from home regularly, up from 23% in 2008.

But when viewed by individual options, the findings are the reverse. Compared with 2008:

  • Job sharing is down from 29% to 18%
  • Sabbaticals decreased from 38% to 28%
  • Only 2% of U.S. employers offer any kind of voucher or subsidy for child care, down from 5%

The survey also looked at phased retirement, parental leave, ability to switch shifts, control over time of meal and bathroom breaks, health insurance coverage and other policies.

While workers’ stress has been increasing, employers during the recession and since have felt the need to reduce personnel and costs, which limits ability to be flexible.

So the question is whether as the labor market tightens and talent wars resume (if they do) the younger workers will see work/life flexibility on the upswing and benefit. Will more companies see the value of being perceived as a "best place to work"? Will workers finally experience work arrangements more in tune with their values and their ideas on how, where and when work should be done?

Please comment and add your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot   www.pdcounsel.com


Each generation’s view of work and how it will best engage them and motivate them to be most productive has changed. But the design of work and work processes has not changed adequately with the times. From surveys, observations and discussions, here are the key issues I see:

  • Neglecting to make work continually perceived as meaningful to workers.
  • Not providing opportunities for all to learn and grow.
  • Recognition and feedback not closely timed and aligned to the event.
  • Metrics that are counter to goals and motivation, e.g., time-based rather than results-based.
  • Uniform facetime demands without rational reasons for them.
  • People showing lack of respect or not understanding what respect of others requires.
  • Differing and unclear definitions of professionalism.
  • Not encouraging input on work design and process from all participants: generations and levels.
  • Hierarchical titles that divide rather than include and encourage collaboration.
  • Not considering who wants and who doesn’t want more challenge and increased responsibility in their work so they are appropriately motivated.

In future posts I will suggest strategies and steps to redesign work so it will work better for all generations.

Please add or comment on other problems you see – or those above that you don’t think are problems. Let’s have a conversation on this significant issue ripe for change.


The articles keep piling on: Just this week the New York Times Sunday Styles section (August 12, 2012) big feature on the changing attitudes about stay-at-home dads; and sports pages in many newspapers and electronic media on professional athletes’ fatherly devotion (e.g., Eli Manning, elite quarterback, said he thinks he’s an “elite dad”). I wrote about this trend in sports several years ago, and I’m delighted to see young fathers in other occupations not only expanding their parenting roles, but also speaking publicly about it.

My big questions are:

1-    How much have attitudes in the workplace (not the sports arena) changed toward part-time worker/dads and stay-at-home dads?

2-    Will elimination of stigmas regarding work/life flexibility for men accelerate acceptance and new flexibility for everyone and help women in the workplace as well?

3-    Are the more open attitudes a generational thing, more prevalent with Gen X and Gen Y/Millennials?

Phyllis Weiss Haserot    www.pdcounsel.com



As we celebrate our nation’s founding and freedom and our own personal freedom, I have been reflecting on some of the keywords of our personal and intellectual freedom and what they can mean. Here are a few that can affect our sense of purpose regarding our work and our lives.

  • Too many choices
  • Shifting priorities
  • Blooming creativity
  • Resisting the mundane
  • Losing track of the abundance
  • Too much clutter
  • Too many things started and still unfinished
  • Keeping in touch with others

Freedom requires discipline and accountability – to one’s self as well as to others. Usually accountability to oneself is the hardest.

Do you relate?  What are your personal freedom keywords?

Looking forward to your comments.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot


Recently I read a thought-provoking story – front page of the New York Times Sunday Business section (June 26, 2011) – “Job Jugglers, Walking on the Tightrope” by Hannah Seligman. On the one hand, it is very sad to see that a significant number of Gen Y/Millennials are working three or four part-time job and often still not meeting basic expenses. These are college grads hit by a deeply “recessionary” job market.

We hear so much about the unemployed, and we hear so much talk about that generation’s entitlement mentality. As I enjoy seeing myths debunked, it is gratifying to see the resilience and the dedication of the twenty-somethings to leading self-sufficient lives with a strong work ethic, flexibility and energy.

For all their pluck and long days, this is an untenable situation: stressful, always worrying about money, no benefits and rarely providing entre to a full-time job, and no way of paying off education debt. This is now known as “mal-employment.” (Federal data reports 1.9 million graduates were mal-employed, up 17% from 2007.)

It does demonstrate this generation’s multi-tasking ability, underlying optimism and personal organizational skills and even desire to acquire new skills.

What will be the long-term effects? Too much multi-tasking leading to difficulty focusing on big, long-term goals? Permanent salary lag? Burnout and exhaustion? Further putting off commitments?

Some do make the multi-part-time juggling work style a matter of choice. For some Gen Yers (as with previous generations), flexibility and freedom equals happiness when contrasted with a full-time office job. Does this harken back to the “freelance mentality” the Gen Xers were known for in the 1980s and 1990s? Will it be an extension of Gen Y’s desire for multiple careers and having options? How will job-juggling work when the desire for family piles on additional responsibilities?

Please comment and add your thoughts.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot      www.pdcounsel.com



A question that came to me after a webinar I led on April 14th warranted a longer and widely distributed answer. While the question was focused on law firms, I believe it applies to other types of firms of professionals and knowledge workers as well.

Q: What key changes do you think Gen Y/ Milleninals (same generation) will drive in terms of how law firms operate (e.g. changes to law firm structure and process, changes to hourly rate billing model)?

This is a juicy question to speculate about.  My answer, admittedly, is a combination of realistic trendwatching, projection of typical Gen Y/Millennial traits, and a bit of wishful thinking. Here goes:

I think we will see influenced by the Gen Yers, more flexibility, more demand and existence of diversity and inclusion of all kinds and more representation of Gen Ys (and later generations) in the strategic direction and governance of firms.

Facetime will be demanded to a lesser degree as a daily expectation (appealing because that can reduce real estate costs for firms). Both Gen Y and X will push this through their savvy use of technology and social networks. However, human nature won’t change radically as to the importance of keeping top-of-mind through in-person visibility and interaction and the significance of non-verbal cues in communication. Skype and other video communication from mobile apps will help to change attitudes about non-essential in-person facetime.

Some of these changes will come about more quickly, not because of Millennial demands in general, but because the male Millennials are speaking up publicly - unlike most of the men in prior generations - to admit they want changes in the flexibility and structure that women have been more vocal about. When it’s obvious that the workplace needs to be structured to make it work better for everyone and their clients of all generations and levels (my mission for the last dozen years), change has to come.

We will see more regular collaboration among firm colleagues and with clients. Again, that is happening already. The key to this is the willingness to change compensation systems that often reward lone ranger behaviors rather than the behaviors desired to enable maximizing collaboration and helping others. That means financial incentives for transitioning clients and roles, mentoring, coaching and enabling the best person for both billable and non-billable work to be selected and accept the role 

Billing models have been changing slowly for some time, and not from Gen Y influence. Clients will always be the most important influence and driver of change regarding billing models. Another driver is the success of alternate firm models, including virtual firms that can operate at lower costs and do equivalent quality work. Those firms are being started primarily by the younger half of the Boomers and Gen Xers.

Please chime in with your thoughts, comments, positive and negative and keep a dialogue going. It’s up to all of us, Millennial or not, to help determine the future and use our influence.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot       www.pdcounsel.com 





CFOs were asked, "What perks, if any, is your company offering or planning to offer in 2011 in an effort to attract and retain employees?" (Multiple responses were allowed.)

Results of the survey during the 4th quarter of 2011 of over 1,400 CFOs of firms with at least 20 employees by Accountemps, a specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance, and bookkeeping professionals, indicated that they offered or were planning to offer the following perks 

Subsidized training/education – 29%

Flexible work hours or telecommuting – 24%

Mentoring programs – 24%

Matching gift programs – 13%

Free or subsidized lunch or snacks – 11%

On-site perks such as childcare, dry cleaning, fitness center, cafeteria – 11%

Subsidized transportation – 10%

Subsidized gym membership – 9%

Sabbaticals – 8%

Housing or relocation assistance – 7%

 The focus is on training to increase employee competence – good for the companies and enabling people to be more marketable at the same time – as well as adding convenience to make their lives more manageable, It’s good to see those are high priorities, and it would be even better if the percentages of firms offering these items were higher. We can hope they will rise as they feel more secure about the economy and feel the threat of increased employee mobility.

The Professional Employment Report has the comprehensive results.

Keeping desired employees engaged at any time, and especially when they have more job and career options, will mean in addition to perks, offering what they want the most after reasonable compensation – meaningful and challenging work and fair treatment with opportunity to grow. Employers should not take their eye off that ball.

Phyllis Weiss Haserot 


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