Flexibility Is The Dominant Trend For Parental Leave

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Sep. 3, 2012 12:00 am  

Julia Strickland, business manager for Cross Gunter Witherspoon & Galchus, at work at the Little Rock law firm with her children Katie, 12; Will, 10; and Erin, 7. (Photo by Mike Pirnique)

Ben Shipley, an employment lawyer in Fort Smith and president of the Western Arkansas Human Resources Association, said the generations following the baby boomers aren’t as loyal to employers and want balanced lives because they’ve seen layoffs and hear in college that they’ll work several jobs throughout their careers.

“Work is an important part of their lives, but so are families and personal lives,” Shipley said. “There’s an expectation that people will need to have some time to be good parents to their children, which may include going to parent-teacher conferences and athletic events.”

DeStefano said it’s the rare Arkansas company that offers family perks such as subsidized day care, permission to bring children to work daily or paid attendance at school plays and PTA meetings.

Most often, the businesses let employees work out alternative schedules to enhance their lives. Even a factory will allow an employee to miss some work and later make up the hours for the sake of a family occasion, DeStefano said.  

The changes have come due to technology that allows many jobs to be mobile, as well as evolving family structures that can include aging relatives and grandparents who raise grandchildren, she said.

“I think a big driver for that is family issues in general. The home life isn’t what it used to be. … The workplace is having to adjust,” DeStefano said. “A lot of Generation Y, the younger group, really wants the work-life balance, and they’re not going to work for you if they don’t get it.”



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