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I attended the June 18-21, 2014 Work & Family Researchers Network (WFRN) Conference in New York City, Changing Work & Family Relationships in a Global Economy. About 700 Work/Life Researchers and Practitioners from 42 countries presented their  research on how work/life has evolved.  Here’s a taste of what I learned & a reading list.

 PAST: Work/Life became popular in the 1970’s as women entered the workforce

I entered the workforce in 1979 at the steepest part of the curve. Work/Life was about work and life as separate worlds and applied to women only. Arlie Russell Hochschild’s,  The Second Shift, pointed out the dilemma of women working at work and a shift at home too. I was excited to see Arlie Russell Hochschild at the conference with an update, The Second Shift: 25 Years Later.

NOW: It’s not your Working Mothers’ work/life anymore

Life got interesting.  Globalization & technology make today’s work week 24/7. Gender roles are changing, men are more active fathers. The sandwich generation cares for their children & elders at the same time. Millennials demand meaning in both their work and life. Family includes same sex marriage, childfree couples & the importance of friends.

Work/Life is defined as “the extent to which effectiveness and satisfaction in work and nonwork roles are compatible with individual’s life values at a given point in time” – (Greenhaus & Allen, 2011).

Flex is the name of the game, but can lead to a work/life dilemma. See the WFRN Research Spotlight on Uthpala Senarathne Tennakoon’s work that asks the provocative question are we empowered or enslaved?

What does the FUTURE hold?

Studies have proven that rest and rejuvenation increase innovation, creativity & productivity; and gender diversity relates to improved financial performance.  How do we use this knowledge?

At the WFRN conference a new concept bubbled up supported by Dr. Ellen Kossek, WFRN President. Workforce Sustainability: “Positive energy, capabilities, vitality, and resources to meet current and future organizational performance demands without harming economic and mental health on and off the job.”*

Authors Brigid Schulte (Overwhelmed)and Joan Williams (What Works for Women at Work) attended the conference and recommended strategies for individuals while we wait for corporate organizations to make the turn to Workforce Sustainability.


I’ve got my reading list in hand & I look forward to sharing fresh ideas in my Work Life Pursuit workshops.


* Kossek, E.E., Valcour, M. & Linio, P. The sustainable work force: Organizational strategies for promoting work-life balance and wellbeing in Work and Wellbeing: Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume III. Edited by Peter Y. Chen and Cary L. Cooper @2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Published 2014 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 295-319. DOI: 10.1002/9781118539415.wbwell14.


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