Work-Life Balance Whiners Part 3

I’m back with part 3 of whiners today.  I have listed some of the definitions that the FDS International study attempted to define as work-life balance to individuals.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to discount any of these issues nor am I trying to tell you what your balanced life should look like.  I’m simply making a point from a comparative perspective. 

Today I’m continuing a discussion about the study by FDS International titled What Workers Want: A Worldwide Study of Attitudes to Work and Work-Life Balance, and the sensational headlines derived from that study that suggest that American workers rate very high when it comes to whining about their jobs.

Although we’ve learned that it isn’t the top predictor of overall job satisfaction in the U.S., work-life balance is solidly correlated with inner fulfillment, pride, and a sense of accomplishment. We also know from reports and direct experience from corporations, executives, mangers, executive recruiters, career professionals, and workers themselves that work-life balance is becoming an increasingly important consideration in job and career decisions. Finally, I believe that one of the most important lifestyle issues of today is that of work-life balance, and that it will continue to be for many years to come.

Towards that end, the FDS International study attempted to define what the term “work-life balance” means to individuals. Again, I’ve pulled out the data for U.S workers. I’ve also included global percentages because they give clues to the report’s possible agenda.

I think these results tell us what we already know – that we tend to place great emphasis on our family, friends, and private time – as evidenced by the percentages who defined work-life balance as “balancing home and work/ giving weight to home issues” and “achieving a quality of life”. These things are at the core of our beliefs and values, and we want to protect them.

What’s interesting to me is that things like “standard of working life” and “good cooperation between employer and employee” don’t rank higher in the survey. I believe that what’s being represented here is that, although many companies do offer benefits and perks to assist their employees, many aren’t waiting around expecting their employers to be responsive or offer final solutions to their work-life balance.

I’m not trying to discount any of these issues, nor trying to tell you what your balanced life should look like. I’m simply trying to make a point from a comparative perspective.

So what’s all the hoopla about the study? How has all of this data been interpreted to characterize Americans as “whiners”?

This is where the math gets fuzzy – that is, it’s an attempt to introduce concepts behind statistical data and statistical operations, rather than getting the right arithmetic answers to these problems.

To achieve an “Overall Whininess Rank” (the U.S. ranked 4th out of 23 countries in the survey), the authors compared the percentage of workers who felt that they were unhappy with their pay (38%) and measured that against workers’ actual income relative to the cost of living (a global purchasing power index, of which the U.S. ranks highest in the world, of course). This gave Americans a “Pay Whine Rank” of #1 in the world. They then compared the number of workers feeling that work impinged on private life (31%) with the average hours worked per week (39.6) to come up with an “Hours Whine Rank” of 11th in the world.

These two numbers were then simply combined and compared to other countries to give the U.S. its rank.

Again, I don’t hear any whining where I’m sitting – I see and hear people trying to lead lives and lifestyles in support of their beliefs and values.

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