Given that the HR community is predominantly female, you are likely to sit up and take notice of the news story on our front page this week.
A new study claims that the UK’s long-hours culture is apparently more damaging to women than it is to men, as women generally have more responsibilities outside the home.
Separate research reveals that only one-quarter of working mothers share childcare with their partners, and one in four feels that her career options have become limited since having a child.
The conclusion of the first study was that women felt stressed by these pressures, and were likely to turn to comfort food to help them deal with their stress. In short, the effort of doing all that ‘juggling’ – particularly those in senior roles – is proving too much.
There is a risk that studies like this could be patronising to some women, as not all high-flying working mothers are on the verge of burn-out. Many women manage their multiple responsibilities easily, advance their careers, and raise a healthy, happy family.
If you have some strong views on this, I would love to hear them (e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments).
But one of the messages to come out of this research is that the onus is on employers to offer greater flexibility in terms of working hours, and to create an environment where staff are not afraid to speak up if they are feeling stressed.
Many progressive employers are already prioritising employee wellbeing, but this study suggests that there are just as many that are still simply paying lip service to it.
As HR professionals are the agents of change in an organisation (see our special features section on change management, starting on page 17, for more on this), wellbeing is an area where the function can make a huge difference.
It makes business sense to be alert to the needs of everyone in the workplace – and that goes for men as well as women.