December 31, 2008
Prediction: The 7 biggest work/life balance stories for 2009
Happy 2009, folks. Hope your New Year's Eve was a joyous one.
To wind down the year, my last post gave my picks for the top work/life balance stories of 2008. Today, I'm giving my predictions for the biggest work/life balance stories we'll see in the year ahead:
1. The continued rise of flex work. Realizing that you can't do the same amount of work with less people power, companies with common sense will choose flexible work arrangements over layoffs. Instituting telecommuting, shorter workweeks, and job sharing as cost-cutting measures not only keeps your people employed, it keeps their morale up during difficult financial times. Layoffs, of course, have the opposite effect.
2. The "working" retirement. Lewis Lin, a Seattle-based interviewing coach, wrote in with this one, and I couldn't agree more. Increased life expectancy and cost of living have already contributed greatly to more and more people working well into their golden years. Fifty- and sixty-somethings who saw their retirement funds shrink by 40 percent or more in recent months will have to think twice about walking away from work any time soon. Many simply won't be able to afford it.
3. The accidental small business owner. Those with means who've been laid off from a floundering industry (banking comes to mind) might find it easier to start a low-overhead business than find a job with a salary comparable to the one they lost. In October, business strategist Rhonda Abrams argued in USA Today that a recession is actually a fine time to start a low-overhead business. For one thing, the competition is likely weakened. For another, customers are hungry for cheap alternatives. (Entire article here.)
4. The reluctant freelancer. Take it from a long-time freelancer, if you have a service to sell, it's easier during a recession to find organizations to hire you for project-based freelance and contract work than it is to find organizations to hire you for a full-time position. Why? Because it's far less expensive for companies to farm out the work sporadically than to open a salaried position. Any time the country slips into a recession, you'll find leagues laid-off writers, designers, programmers, admins, and project managers turning to freelance work to make ends meet.
5. The marriage of convenience. In a 2007 poll conducted by leading health policy research group Kaiser Family Foundation, 7 percent of Americans admittedly to marrying so they or their partner could get on the other's health insurance plan. Given the high unemployment figures right now, I'd be shocked if more couples didn't step up their nuptial plans for financial reasons.
6. The putting off of parenthood. Those pint-sized bundles of joy cost a small fortune. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the annual cost of raising a child in a middle-income, married-couple, two-child family was about $11,000 or $12,000 a year in 2007, depending on geographic location. Then there's the whole matter of the college fund. If ever there was a year not to incur those added expenses, it's this one.
7. The never-ending fascination with the Obamas' family life. This young, history-making political family appears to have it all: beauty, brains, power, heart, education, ambition, compassion, connections, the world's rapt attention, and the world's seemingly infinite problems resting squarely on their shoulders. How can we resist gawking and seeing what we can learn from them?
That's my list. How about yours? What do you think will make the biggest work/life balance headlines in 2009?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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