Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

E-Alerts: Organizational Effectiveness Archives

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Men Change Attitudes Toward Work And Life: A New Study

October, 2004

At last some hard data on what men want from life and work! I am very excited to share with you the results of a study released in October 2004 titled "Generation & Gender in the Workplace" as it documents so many things I have been observing and talking about regarding workplace attitudes for the last seven years. It was conducted by the Families and Work Institute and sponsored and funded by the American Business Collaboration (ABC), a group of eight major businesses, including two accounting/consulting firms, that believe collaboration can accomplish more than working alone.

The study contains rigorous research comparing the results of this 2002 study by generation and gender with 1977 and 1992 studies by the Families and Work Institute and the U.S. Department of Labor. While there is a plethora of data to chew on, some surprising and some confirming, the attitudes showing the most dramatic changes are from young men - Generations X and Y - as compared with Baby Boomers and Matures. Since there is too much to cover in one e-Alert, I will discuss more of the generational comparisons in my monthly Inter-Generational Relations e-Tip. Here I focus on the attitudes and objectives of young men because the spotlight regarding workplace flexibility has mostly been, both in organizations and in the media, on women, predominantly mothers.

This is a true alert, time to pay attention to the alarm clock and stop hitting the snooze button.

Here are some of the most significant findings, particularly as related to men. When decision-makers in the workplace recognize that for the most part work and life objectives of both genders of the younger generations are similar, the need to address changes in attitudes and responsibilities for everyone will be obvious and unavoidable.

* Fathers' time with children has increased dramatically, especially for Gen X dads. Women's time spent with children has stayed the same, suggesting that children are getting more attention (if the attention is not diluted by multi-tasking).

* Generation X men spend significantly more time with their children than Boomer and Mature generation men, even adjusting the data to compare all fathers (regardless of generation) having children of the same age. Those of Gen Y with children spend even more time.

* 63% of Gen Y employees disagree that traditional gender roles are better.


* Men, but not women, have changed views on maternal employment.

* 82% of all Gen Y employees agree that a working mother can have as good a relationship with her children as a non-working mother.

* Married men spent significantly more workdays time on household chores in 2002 than 1977, which enabled women to reduce thetime they spent.

* Employed women still do much more than men, working "two shifts" at work and home.

* Nonetheless, employers need to acknowledge and support men's changed responsibilities and behavior in their personal lives. Flexibility is a significant issue for both men and women.

* There has been a decline of 16 percentage points in the portion of college educated men (Gen Y, X, and Boomer) since 1992 who want to move into jobs of more responsibility. (For women, the decline is 21 percentage points.) The study analysts see this as the real revolution, rather than that younger women are opting out of the workforce.

* Men are more likely than women to want jobs with greater responsibility, but that's still only 45% of men in the study (47% prefer the same level of responsibility) or 52% when the Matures are not counted. Only 39% of employees with graduate or professional degrees want to move into jobs with greater responsibility.

* 60% of college educated Gen Y, Gen X, and Boomers of both genders who don't experience negative spillover from jobs to family life want more responsibility in their work.

* Most of those who do want to move up don't see opportunities in their current organization.

* Higher level and higher earning professionals and managers don't present attractive role models for the pipeline of potential management candidates.

The study's findings raise a number of critical questions:

Q. If more than half of employees who would like to have jobs with more responsibility are either somewhat or very likely to seek employment elsewhere in the near future, what can employers do to retain them?

Q. How can work, especially in the highly time-pressured professional service industries, be restructured so that it works better for people and their clients (the mission of our AuthenticWorks division) within the requirements of a competitive global economy?

Q. How can employers provide for both women and men to step on and off the fast track? Can the fast track itself be redefined?

Q. How can employers retain senior professionals - those that have the client relationships, institutional knowledge, experience, judgment and maturity - in productive roles for mutual benefit?

I'll address more of these truly compelling and significant findings and their implications for employers in the coming months. Next is a series of findings on work-centric vs. family-centric or dual-centric employees, partners and shareholders.

Let's get a dialogue going on these questions. Send this message around through your networks. Give me a call.

© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2004. All rights reserved.