October 08, 2009

BALANCING WORK AND FAMILY

By Idaho Senator Mike Crapo

In Idaho, and for most people in the country, families are the most important part of life. But, to adequately provide for families, Americans often spend a significant amount of each day away from their families at their jobs. Studies show that a healthy balance between work and family produces happier and more productive employees, which will benefit the rest of society as well as the economy. This is why I have co-sponsored Senate Resolution 296, with Senator Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), which would designate October 2009 as "National Work and Family Month."   

The resolution recognizes that work schedules that allow employees to spend more time with their families will lead to job productivity and healthy families. It also urges public officials, employers, employees and the general public to work together to strike a balance between work and family. The Resolution also calls for National Work and Family Month to be observed with ceremonies and activities that would promote awareness of this worthy cause.

Findings from several of the studies cited in S.Res. 296 include: 

• The quality of workers' jobs and the support of their workplaces are key factors in job productivity, job satisfaction, commitment to employers and employee retention. 

• Employees in more flexible and supportive workplaces are more effective and engaged and are less likely to look for a new job within the next year. They also have lower stress levels and better overall health than employees in workplaces that provide less flexibility and support for working parents.

• Employees who effectively balance family and work responsibilities are less likely to report making mistakes while working or resent their employers and coworkers.

• Employees who effectively balance family and work responsibilities are healthier and more successful in their relationships with their spouses, children and friends.

• Eighty-five percent of wage and salaried workers in the United States have immediate, day-to-day family responsibilities outside of their jobs.
• Job flexibility often allows parents to be more involved in their children's lives and research demonstrates that parental involvement leads to children's higher achievement in language and mathematics, improved behavior, greater academic persistence and lower dropout rates.

• A lack of job flexibility for working parents negatively affects children's health in ways that range from children being unable to make necessary doctors' appointments to children receiving inadequate early care, which leads to more severe and prolonged illness.

• Family rituals, such as sitting down to dinner and sharing activities on weekends and holidays, positively influence children's health and development. Additionally, children who eat dinner with their families every day consume nearly a full-serving more of fruits and vegetables per day than those who never eat dinner with their families or do so only occasionally.

In Idaho, we believe that a strong family is the foundation of a stable, civil society. The ability of employees to better attend to their family's needs through a flexible work schedule will ensure that our families remain strong. It will also create happier, more engaged employees, which will benefit employers and add needed productivity to the economy during this current downturn. You can read more about work and family issues and the full text of S.Res. 296 on my website: http://crapo.senate.gov.

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