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Thursday, August 31, 2006

What a week!

This has been a crazy week for those of us in South Florida. I greeted the news that schools would be closed on Tuesday with dread. I knew I would still be expected to work and wondered how I would find child care. Fortunately, I found a babysitter and worked from home. I felt fortunate to have that luxury when some working parents were forced to take a vacation day or use sick time.
A growing number of companies here understand the work/family pull during hurricane season. My article in The Miami Herald identifies some of those companies that allow parents in a bind to bring kids to work. I think it has become a storm neccesity, some even turn conference rooms into day camps. BankAtlantic has a storm prep class for its employees and urges them to develop a child care arrangement as part of their hurricane preparations.
I spoke to a woman who call herself an emergency nanny. I can't vouch for her professionalism, or her performance, but her company is called A Nanny Now. Maria Vivanco, the owner told me she helped out many working parents after Hurricane Wilma. Her number is .954-360-2820 or 561-445-1302. Maria says her nannies get $16 an hour. That means you have to earn well over that to make it worth your while, or maybe just be desperate to keep your job.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Executives say work/life balance has worsened

Interesting results of a new survey: Nearly half of more than 1,300 executives report their work-life balance has worsened in last 5 years, according to the Association of Executive Search Consultants. That must be why about half have considered a taking sabbatical.
For any business that doesn't think that's significant: 87 percent felt that work-life balance considerations are critical in their decision whether to join, or remain with, an employer.
"This should be a wake-up call to every employer," said Peter Felix, President of the Association of Executive Search Consultants.
Yet, I it a wake-up call. I really don't see executives quitting their jobs. Even when half have considered taking sabbaticals, how many actually execute on that. And if an executive leaves his or her company, will things be different elsewhere.
Take this key finding: 59% indicated that new technologies, such as the BlackBerry and mobile phone, had negatively impacted their leisure time
Felix says, "The balance of power between employers and senior executives has shifted with the executive now in the driver’s seat. Employers need to be more creative and nimble in today’s market and some negotiating tactics may include being more sensitive to candidate work-life balance needs. If employers do not listen, their competitors surely will.”
I'm curious whether that's true. Are senior executives hard to come by? And, in South Florida, where our many of our executives travel to Latin America, can a competitor really offer an executive better work-life balance? From what I have heard, the answer is no.
56% stated they would strongly consider refusing a promotion if it negatively affected their work-life balance

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

An invitation

I am extending a formal invitation to those of you dealing with any work/life balance issues who want to write a guest column for this blog. I know so many of you have opinions, thoughts and comments on subjects such as telecommuting, flexibility, single parenting, making time for fitness or the lack of paid sick leave. Please let me know if you want to contribute something on these or other topics. My e-mail address is

Monday, August 21, 2006

Marketing to Moms

Recently I wrote a profile of Maria Bailey, a South Florida entrepreneur who has made a business out of her expertise on moms. Bailey has a radio show, television shows and a series of books on marketing to moms. One of her most interesting consulting jobs is with Daimler Chrysler. As marketing budgets tighten and family stutures change, car makers want to zero in on the mom market, which makes the bulk of buying decisions. Daimler Chrysler wants to focus on Mom's concerns. It hired Bailey to help it with its "Moms Initiative." The first phase aims to link vehicle purchases to time management for mothers. A smart idea! I am a sucker for anything that will help with time management.
So many of us harried working moms have turned our cars into our kitchen, our offices, our favorite place to converse with our kids. It's about time car makers get a clue and give us some more conveniences in our cars -- a microwave perhaps!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Concierge Services

This first week of school has been hectic in my household. So I am particularly intrigued by the emergence of concierge services. These services offer to run errands for you -- grocery shopping, prescription pick ups, school supply shopping, etc. Wow what a concept! I have found two that have just popped up in South Florida. And, perhaps there are more that I haven't discovered.
Recently, more of these companies are soliciting employers who might have an interest in offering the concierge service as an employee perk. If my company offered such a service, I would have a hard time ever leaving. I'm sure I'm not the only harried employee that feels that way.
This week, I used a service for my dog that sells convenience. The women came right to my house and groomed my dog in her truck in my driveway. The truck was extremely clean and my dog didn't get as nervous as she usually does in a busy place. The cost was slightly higher than a typical pet shop but worth it to me because I avoided the gas cost and could check "dog to groomer" off my to-do list without leaving my house. I realize it is tough for many of us to make ends meet these days. But sometimes, a little convenience is worth the expense.

Monday, August 14, 2006

First day of school

For the past 10 years, every vacation has been a family vacation. Last week, I went on an island get-away with my husband. For him it was a working vacation. For me, some time alone with my spouse, the guy who usually gets lost in the daily chaos of juggling work and family. As much as I missed my kids, I recommend some alone time for all married couples.
Now, I'm thrust into the new school year, reshuffling child care and the daily routine, just like most working parents. At school this morning, I waited with my youngest outside his new kindergarten class. I was struck by how many dads were there, disrupting their morning work routines and reshuffling their schedules. I even saw a few dads fighting to hold back a tear when the teacher made us kiss our little ones good bye and hit the road. For anyone who thinks that work/life balance only applies to women, I challenge them to visit a school to see how many dads participate in the morning routines and appreciate flexibility in their start times.
Here's to a new school year and a change for many of us in our work-and-child-care setups!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Working women aren't treated fairly

What do working women worry about? Basic economic issues top the list. The rising cost of health care, pay not keeping up with the cost of living and not having retirement benefits are issues of high concern to about 23,500 working women who participated in an online survey released today by the AFL-CIO, a federation of unions.

The survey reveals that most women struggle with balancing work and family, especially when many aren't paid equal to men and the country still lacks the public policies that would help them. Most women in the survey are worried about the prospects for the young people entering the workforce. I am too.

I think the comments by one women who participated in the survey sums it up well:

“Imagine getting the kids ready for school while YOU take your shower and dress. One child is coughing. YOU go to work for eight hours then pick up the kids. He’s still coughing. YOU go to the drug store for cough medicine. YOU bought the food yesterday. YOU cook for dinner tonight. YOU wash at least one load of laundry every night. YOU read a bedtime story to the kids. Your second child is coughing. YOU don’t stop for 16-plus hours. Now, tell me, do YOU need help with child care, medical expenses and some vacation time?” — Dani, Los Angeles, Calif.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Friends at work

When I think about my close friends, many of them were made in the workplace. I don't think I could have made it through my early years with children and work had it not been for my co-worker Dale, who gave me so much support. Today in The Miami Herald, I wrote about a new book by Tom Rath, who works for The Gallup Organization. Rath drew on more than 5 million interviews and says having a good pal at work makes you happier in your personal life. But some businesses and employees don't see it that way. Some companies actually have policies that forbid friendships at work.
More women have best friends at work, but men seem to see the benefit too.
Richard Gibbs, who works in the public relations department at DHL in Plantation, said he sees both the pros and cons. The danger, he says, is having all your close pals at work.
"There are some people who need friends outside of work to give them balance,'' Gibbs says.
I could relate to law partner Kristen Sampo's comment about her best friend at work, Suzanne Bogdan, another working mom. "She's a stress-reliever." The women are pictured above.