Whatever the reasons, combine them with a tight labor market, technology that allows employees to work from home, and a younger enervation of chief executives, and you’re seeing the beginning of change in the corporate workplace. “Some chief executives are beginning to acknowledge the problem, both for themselves and their employees. People like Harry M. Jansen Kramer Jar. , the 44 year old chief of Baxter International, who makes it a point to leave his office at 6 P. M. To have dinner with his wife and four kids. ” Harry Kramer is part of a new generation.
He woke up to the problem [of work/life balance] three Hears ago when Baxter, which manufactures medical products, surveyed employees ND found that conflicts between work and home were roiling the company. Surprisingly, even more men than women reported feeling stress. Look at the gender split: Forty-nine percent of men versus 39 percent of women said they were looking for a new Job because of work/life conflicts. ” “Kramer could understand. Unlike the bosses of the previous generation, whose wives supported them every inch of their climb, his wife was a banker until after their fourth child was born eighteen months ago.
Both had heavy travel schedules. They took turns bringing the kids to day care. One day Kramer was late to a meeting because when he arrived at his Terrified, Illinois, office he found his 3-year old daughter in the backseat of his car. ‘Dad, where are we? She said. Rushed, he thought he had dropped her off at the baby-sitter’s house. “Kramer was not merely a sympathizer; he’s a practical employer in a tight labor market. So he supports employees working flexible schedules. In the past three [ears the number of Baxter employees (men and women) in the United States using alternative work arrangements doubled, to 2,310.
They don’t necessarily have to take pay cuts; they’re simply not in the office during traditional hours, instead working part or all of the time from home or getting their work done in four days rather than five. Some employees post ‘office hours’ on their doors. “To make sure his managers practice what he preaches, their raises hinge in part on an evaluation by their subordinates on how well they do in providing a supportive work/life environment. Kramer also writes a monthly newsletter that typically leads with a funny account of fife at the Kramer household. Kramer knows employees will gauge the sincerity of the change by how he leads his life. He hasn’t given up his travel schedules, but En he’s in town he’s usually out of the office by 6 to have dinner with his family, help his kids practice baseball, or do homework with them. From 10 P. M. To 1 A. M. He takes a run and does voice mail and e-mail. ‘In any company, people are looking for signals,’ he says. When they see me leave at a reasonable hour, they know this isn’t being done for effect. “Is this good for business?
Kramer is convinced it is. He o n o Bester’s logistics department: T 00 employees – tour to them men – work some kind of alternative work schedules. Yet volume has doubled in the last six years. “As for his immediate subordinates, Kramer says he no longer insists they hang around all the time. Whether your people in Chicago, whether they’re at home, whether they are in another country, as long as there is reasonable communication, why do you care how often you see any of those people? It’s results he wants. “