The “Work-life Balance” vs. “Work-life Integration” Debate – Part I

The once hot topic of “work-life balance” is losing support in favor of a theory that doesn’t sound all that different but is claimed to be not only better but more attainable.

The newer-kid-on-the-work/life/balance-block is work-life integration.

What are these two theories and how do they differ?

Kelsie Davis provides these basic definitions of each philosophy:

Work-life balance suggests “employees shouldn’t be entirely consumed by work responsibilities.  Companies who advocate balance “are more likely to have generous, but still defined, vacation policies” and “encourage employees to work a pretty normal schedule (9-5ish) with a little flexibility. They also discourage workaholics.” Companies support an approach that’s more of a “hard, defined line between work and life designed to keep one from encroaching on the other.”

Work-life integration suggests an incorporation of “work and life into one conglomerate, fulfilling purpose…” Supporting companies are likely to have an undefined vacation policy with the understanding that employees won’t abuse it. They are “more likely to have a ‘just get the job done’ attitude . . . not caring in which hours the work is getting done . . . creating a more blurred line between work and life (but ideally, employees don’t become overwhelmed by work or too consumed by life).”

As one would expect, each philosophy has it advocates and nay-sayers.

Team work-life balance maintains:

 People need a definite end to the work day.

  • This hard line protects them from being always “on call”.
  • Defined hours provide accountability.

Team work-life integration claims:

  • Allowing people to work when and where it best suits them is preferable.
  • Taking full advantage of the flexibility afforded by technology is a win-win situation—even at 10 pm.
  • People can “manage” themselves and be trusted to get the job done.

The advancements in technology have progressed to where being “always on” and “always connected” are considered the norm. Therefore, it’s easy to see how a hard line between work and life has become much more difficult to maintain and to some employees, is now seen as less desirable.

In today’s world and across many employment scenarios, life and work surely have meshed—a situation that more closely relates to “integration” than it does to the idea of “balance.”

While for some, the idea of after-hours work is at best unpleasant, at worst unthinkable, others see it as somewhere between a solution to a hectic schedule and the best possible scenario.

Personal preferences aside, work-life integration continues to gain traction as a more viable way to attain both the career achievements and the family/leisure life most people desire. In the next installment, we’ll delve further into the pros, cons and specifics that distinguish the two theories.

Loehr Staffing can offer you a career that fits the freedom and flexibility your lifestyle demands. We also offer a highly-competitive pay package along with a benefit program that includes portable medical insurance, a referral program, and skills enhancement training. Contact us today.


Economic Growth Causes Retention Crisis

b loehr - recruit retainIt’s a good news, bad news situation.
The good news: including figures through December 2015, the U.S. has experienced 69 consecutive months of private sector job growth. Yay!

The bad news: this trend, a major reversal from the financial crisis and recession period of 2007 to 2009, has created recruiting and retention challenges and even talent shortages in some areas of the workforce. Boo.

“It’s the No. 1 issue for H.R. professionals,” according to Chason Hecht, president of Retensa, an employee retention consulting firm. Hecht notes the problem is “pervasive across industries, but some are hit harder than others — like health care,” a sector scrambling to meet the demands of an aging population.

As the economy improves, and job options flourish, it causes employers concern about retaining their most valuable asset – a productive workforce.

So, what’s a business to do? Begin addressing the situation by grasping how the employee’s view of the entire employment picture has changed.

Past generations considered a lifetime position with one company the desired goal. A worker was likely to be content with whatever pay and benefits were offered because job security topped the list of employment aspirations.

Younger generations no longer hold to this way of thinking, a fact proven by how employees “shop” for jobs every few years in the same fashion they “shop” for a new car. The Internet has opened a plethora of doors to anyone seeking a job or simply checking in on “what’s out there.” There are more ways than ever before to “shop around” your skill set and qualifications.

Money still talks, but engagement often talks just as loudly. While a pay increase may head off an immediate departure, job engagement is where it’s at. Many employees will stick around – some even for less pay – if they truly love the position, feel valued by the company and believe they are an integral part of the “bigger picture.”

On the other hand, retirement concerns have begub to take center stage as traditional pensions have all but disappeared. For today’s employees, retirement confidence is strongly tied to their access to a retirement plan whether it be a defined contribution (DC) plan, a defined benefit (DB) plan, or an individual retirement account (IRA). The portability of 401(k)s are an added incentive to change jobs should the right opportunity present itself.

Communication and transparency are also keys to retaining employees. Workers want to know how the company is doing and receive explanations concerning the how and why of financial decisions that affect them and their pay. Being left in the dark suggests they are valued less to the company and will nudge them toward the door.

Considering all these factors, strategize with your management team about specific ways the company can actively seek to retain the trained workforce you’ve worked hard to assemble.

B. Loehr Staffing recognizes how the rapidly changing business environment can force quick, significant shifts in workforce requirements, and we offer a reliable resource to meet those needs. We will communicate clearly, frequently and honestly concerning your hiring needs. Contact us today.

The Impact of the Baby Boomers Exodus on Your Job Search

b loehr - exodusThe 79 million Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964—turning 52 to 70 this year—comprise the largest generation in U.S. history. Beginning in 2011, their exodus from the workforce, in the form of retirement, ushered in a dynamic change that will rock the employment landscape for years to come.

For the next thirteen years, approximately four million Boomers a year will leave the workforce, leaving vacancies for Generations X (born between 1965 and 1983) and Generation Y (born between 1984 and 1995) to fill. Finally, Generation Z, the oldest of whom will turn 20 this year, already dubbed the “Net Generation” for their attachment to the Internet

If you’re in the market for a job or considering a career change, the Boomer exodus may spell opportunity with a capital “O.” The areas particularly impacted by the departure of the Baby Boomers will be:

Management / Senior Level Positions

Over the years, many Boomers climbed their way to upper-level positions in leadership and management roles. Their exit from the workplace will leave gaps in these important roles, creating career advancement opportunities for both Gen X and Gen Y. Well-developed management skills and a drive to lead will benefit job seekers as companies scramble to fill senior level positions.

Skilled Laborers

Traditionally, Baby Boomers have held the majority of jobs in the many fields that fall under the broad title of “skilled labor.” From electricians, plumbers and heating/cooling specialists to engineers, mechanics and various construction-related occupations—these important-to-our-daily-lives careers are facing major shortages as Boomers wave goodbye to the daily grind. In general, fewer young people are pursuing these types of careers. Some labor experts are predicting a boom in opportunities for the next generation of skill trade workers, complete with wage hikes and aggressive recruiting policies.

Boomers are impacting the job market in another major way as well. As this huge generation ages, their changing needs will generate high demands in various job markets. These fields include—


As this largest-ever generation ages, they will require an unprecedented level of health care services. Already some of the fastest-growing jobs in the medical field include medical billing specialists, physician’s assistants, registered nurses and pharmacy technicians. The demand for these and other specific medical positions are expected to continue to grow as will the demand for the supporting roles in patient services and public relations.

Financial Advisors

A spike in the area of financial services has already been realized as Boomers make financial plans for their golden years. The need for alternative retirement planning is expected to see continued growth as both public and private pension plans become less common. 

Let B Loehr Staffing be your staffing resource as you seek the opportunities afforded by the wave of Baby Boomers exiting the workforce. We provide staffing for multiple clients in a variety of industries. One of those positions is sure to be the right fit for you.  Contact us today and let B Loehr help you take advantage of the Boomer exodus.

Baby Boomers Leaving the Workforce

b loehr - BB retirementAccording to AARP, every day, 10,000 Baby Boomers reach the traditional retirement age of 65. This phenomenon began in 2011 and will continue until 2029 when the last Boomers turn 65. You do the math. 10,000 employees x 13 years = an astounding amount of knowledge and experience waltzing out the door of companies across this nation.

Many of these soon-to-be retirees hold leadership posts where they’ve cultivated vast networks and nurtured long-term relationships. Their hands-on understanding relating to the development of products, services, and marketing strategies is unmatched anywhere in the general workforce.

Couple this trend, considered so significant it’s been dubbed “The Baby Boomer Brain Drain”, with the tendency Millennials have for job-hopping, and it’s little wonder companies are scrambling to keep their head above the waves.

While recent economic factors had led to speculation that Boomers would work past the traditional retirement age, early indications point to Boomers retiring at approximately the same rate as their older co-workers. Still an AARP study found that almost 50% of Boomers see themselves working until the age of 70 or more, with 36% reporting they will never be able to afford retirement.

All of this conspires to create a host of dilemmas as well as a new dynamic when it comes to maintaining a productive, engaged workforce.

How can you avoid that panic-stricken moment when it’s painfully obvious that the only person who knew best how to communicate with the company’s most important client or how to navigate the complexities of the switchboard is no longer with the company? Rather he/she is enjoying the wonders of retirement.

What’s a company to do? A good place to start is to take steps to slow the departure of these valuable long-term employees. Those near-retirees who are concerned about either finances or having too much time on their hands might jump at the offer of an alternative work schedule. Although the idea of staying on the job longer may appeal, a restructured workload may be in order. Job-sharing opportunities and part-time or flex-time options, as well as telecommuting, may create a win-win situation for all involved. Flexibility will likely be the key that unlocks the door to keeping those knowledgeable workers on the job a bit longer.

Follow the lead of GM, who last August launched an internal online mentor portal that matches young staffers seeking a mentor with experienced employees eager to share their knowledge. “We want to foster leaders to be coaches, and mentoring is one of the best ways to do that,” says Chris Oster, GM’s global director of talent development. “It’s really about encouraging both sides of that equation to make the connection.”

Foresight, planning and an attitude of flexibility can lessen the negative impact of the departure of history’s largest generation from the workplace.

As a respected resource in the staffing industry since 1898, B. Loehr Staffing remains committed to supplemental staffing and human resources management in the greater St. Louis area. We can assist you in maintaining optimal staffing efficiency as the Baby Boomer’s departure from the workforce creates openings within your company. Contact us today.