Thursday, January 22, 2004

Work-life balance, where did you go?

The books editor of T+D magazine, Josie Rossi, and I seem to have spotted a trend. Or, should we say, an anti-trend.

Josie was remarking to me that she is having trouble finding recent (within the last couple of years) books on work-life balance to mention in her column. (She writes a sidebar called "If This, Then..." which offers a list of books similar to the main one reviewed each month.)

She spent two hours on yesterday she said, as well as time perusing catalogues of book publishers. And she came up with very little. The books she did find focused on the work aspect (how to manage your stress, for example) without the life component. I thought that was strange and said maybe work-life balance just petered out as a hot topic. I know it was all the rage not too long ago, but maybe it was overhyped.

Then it occurred to me that maybe the reason is the recession--which just happens to be a couple of years old. I bet that people haven't been focusing on work-life balance because they've been concentrating on not losing their jobs. Employees are working harder and more hours because with layoffs, companies are understaffed. But people don't feel secure enough in their jobs to complain.

I predict that as the economy recovers, work-life balance issues will come to the forefront again. Evidence? Josie just returned to my office to tell me there's a book coming out in May called The Time Divide: Work, Family, and Gender Inequality. But no additional information about the book is available on Amazon yet, which Josie says is unusual. It's almost as if the publisher wants to wait to see if the economy is truly bouncing back--and the issue returning to the minds of workers--before publicizing the book.

What do you think? Did we hit on something?

(Look for my March Intelligence column in T+D for discussion on whether the economy is truly recovering.)

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