Recession and Family Friendly Workplaces

Apparently the recession is giving employers an excuse to demand old-style “ideal male worker” behaviour from their employees, even if they had previously begun to accommodate the shocking fact that workers may have family responsibilities.

“That’s what it feels like we’re returning to. Work as many hours as you possibly can. Make yourself indispensable. Don’t ever complain. Don’t ever ask for anything,” she said. “I’m just horrified we may as well just forget the last 20 years.”

For their part, many managers are doing little to calm those concerns, human resource consultants say. They tend to view options such as flex time and telecommuting as retention tools, experts say, and in recessions, fear of unemployment is just as effective.

In a way, this is unsurprising. But in a way, it’s a bit of a shock: after all, there have been lots of stories about employers *asking* employees to cut back to 4-day work weeks in order to avoid layoffs, which you’d think would fit well with accommodating flextime. And telecommuting can be a good way to save money. Some employers, apparently, are thinking this way.

A limited number of employers have turned to flex time and telecommuting to contain costs. Nortel Networks, for example, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, is encouraging employees to work remotely to cut real estate expenses, spokesman Jay Barta said. And FedEx, which on Thursday announced more job cuts and a sharp drop in profit, recently gave employees at four call centers the option to work remotely as a cost-saving measure.

But such thoughts are apparently rare.

Surveys show that, rather than granting employees flexibility to save costs, employers are more likely to freeze salaries, slash the travel budget or resort to layoffs.

For more, see here.