Article Date: 1/1/2010

The Workplace Revolution
staffing solutions

The Workplace Revolution

It's not your father's workplace anymore.


A new best-selling book is entitled Womenomics (HarperCollins, 2009) written by Claire Shipman (“Good Morning America”) and Katty Kay (“BBC News”). The sub-heading reads: “How to Stop Juggling and Struggling and Finally Start Living and Working the Way You Really Want.” Ostensibly, the book's been written for women, but the message is relevant to men as well.

The book starts with the same complaints that I've heard from increasing numbers of women optometrists: We've had enough of the long workweeks and all the juggling, spinning and rushing. “We know the solution isn't longer hours at day care or hiring more baby sitters, or asking our husbands to stay home. Because we're the ones who want more time – for our children, our parents, and communities.”

Less is more

“The situation is so dire that a majority of us will opt, when asked, for less responsibility,” say Chipman and Kay. “We will trade duties, even salary increases – for more time, freedom and harmony. We don't want to quit – far from it – but time has become our new currency.”

Consider these statistics from the book:

► 78% of couples in this country are dual-income earners.

► 63% of us believe we don't have enough time for our spouses or partners.

► 74% of us say we don't have enough time for our children.

► 35% of adults are putting significant time toward caring for an elderly relative.

The bottom line, say the authors, is that increasing numbers of women (and men) want flexible work options to achieve a more balanced work/life existence.

Gut Check: The authors include what they call a “Gut Check” that asks you to honestly answer such questions as:

► How important is your career to you?

► Do you spend enough time with your children/aged parents/ community group/sport's activities — and would having more time to devote to family or yourself make a difference in your life?

► How meaningful would it be to pick up your kids after school? Coach a soccer team? Take your father to the park?

► What regularly brings the most stress into your life (and where does work fit into the picture)?

The ideal job

The practice owner asks you to picture your next move up the ladder (e.g. from associate to partner). Do you get a total rush? Is the adrenalin tinged with anxiety? Do you have a sense of dread about how you might manage it? You're then asked to picture nirvana. If you could create the perfect mix of work and personal life, what would it be?

The purpose of these questions is to discover your core preferences. It is also about considering the available options: Is working part time an option? Is it doable in your practice and if so, can you afford to do so?

Beyond part time, there are other creative ways to squeeze a full-time job into fewer hours in the office: Would a full 40-hour work-week compressed into fewer days (four 10-hour days, for example) suit you and work well for the practice? (Those extra hours could also give the practice a competitive advantage. For example, they could provide your practice with morning and/or evening hours. These hours make scheduling appointments more convenient for those patients who work the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours.)

Do you want to start supper early and leave the office every day at 3 p.m. — or never get in before mid-day but work until late at night?

Employer benefits

Benefits to practice owners: Flexibility is not a favor, say the authors. Major corporations are embracing it because it makes business sense in any economy. A two-year study with seven blue chip firms including KPMG, Microsoft and Pfizer measured the business impact of allowing employees to work alternative schedules. The study found:

► The majority of flexible workers increased the productivity of their performance, both in terms of the quantity and quality of their work.

► The majority of employees said they were less stressed with a schedule they could control.

► Employees working flexibly were found to be more committed and more satisfied.

It's definitely not our father's workplace anymore. OM


Optometric Management, Issue: January 2010