What if “the flexibility stigma” cripples the U.S. economically?

The Flexibility Stigma

The Flexibility Stigma

Here’s one study — and yes, it’s just one — and here’s the corresponding summary and analysis at Harvard Business Review. If you can’t figure out what “the flexibility stigma” might be on face, let me briefly explain: people want more flexibility about their work-life interaction, and organizations want to afford less. There it is, in a nutshell.

(The ironic thing about all this is that work-life balance could easily be a strategic advantage for a company, but most guys running companies have been trained to believe the only strategic advantages come from finance-linked concepts.)

Here’s the “whoa” moment of the whole thing:

Strikingly, 38 percent of U.S. Millennials say they would move to another country with better parental leave benefits. That’s a shocking proportion, and it should disturb everyone who cares about U.S. companies and competitiveness.

Again, this is one study, yes — but 4 in 10 people would LEAVE America for more flexibility. Now, saying you’d leave America and actually leaving America are different things. You’d need to find the right job, the right company, the right Visa situation, some support network, etc, etc. Still, I know people — some relatives, even! — who have considered this or are actively considering this.

The U.S. has long been awful (sometimes it’s 23 out of 23 on specific surveys) for work-life balance. Our attitudes are very inclined towards work as virtue, or, at the very least … the idea of “always being busy” as a drug.

But what if U.S. organizations focus so much on short-term gains and “we need our workers here!” and “flexibility is a limitation!” that we actually start losing some of the best people working here. I mean, it’s a multi-step, longer-term process … but sheesh, right?



Ted Bauer

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