Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Business leaders: Treat non-parents, parents alike

Experts say equitable time-off policies foster good will with workers
With schools around the country back in session, parents who work at small businesses will be asking for and receiving time off for soccer games and class plays -- possibly leading to some friction because other workers don't have such ironclad reasons for leaving early.

Business owners and human resources executives say companies can avoid such problems with equitable time-off policies -- in other words, by recognizing that all employees regardless of their personal circumstances need a work-life balance. Encouraging an atmosphere of mutuality and good will among co-workers can also head off conflicts and resentments when one staffer leaves early.

Colleen Haviland, founder and president of Xsell Resources Inc. and Ready to Hire, two businesses in Willow Grove, Pa., sees no difference between giving parents time off for a child's game and giving childless workers time to go to sporting or theatrical events.

"No matter if it's children or any type of other commitment, we all have a real life outside of work," Haviland said. "Everyone needs to support each other in their real life in order to have synergy in the workplace."
Amazing. While I have heard in the past that caring for elderly parents should be given respect, never before have I seen an article imply that even theatre-going and other 'optional' pursuits should be given the same respect. From the perspective of 'equal work' without regard to why the employee is leaving, this makes sense.

An argument could also be made that we should not be judging the value or necessity of how we are using our time off. It is possible that a certain amount of time away from the office is psychologically necessary, that being no less true for childfree folks. More controversially, one could say that even the 'necessary' time off for sick children and parent-teacher meetings are instead the results of choices made long ago, and part of the outside pursuit - parenting- that that person has chosen.

If parenting brings people, pleasure, shall we treat a request to see a little league game the same as a request for time off to see the Mariners? Does it matter that the Mariners won't miss us if we're not there, if being missed is part of the hobby of parenting?

Perhaps not. But it helps to start shifting perspective this way. The assumption that parents' needs are paramount is so ingrained, often this childfree person doesn't bother arguing it, as this article has.

See a similar, but lengthier article here and here.

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