Human Resources News & Insights

How managers may be sabotaging work-life programs

A lot of companies today offer great work-life programs, but are managers penalizing employees who use them? Many employees say “yes.”

It appears anywhere from 25% to 40% of employees in the U.S., U.K. and Germany don’t feel comfortable using their employer’s work-life balance programs, according to a new WorldatWork study.

Why the discomfort? They feel they have been or will be punished for using them.

The study, entitled Men and Work-Life Integration, polled 2,312 employees and managers in six countries: Brazil, China, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The results were far worse from Brazil, China and India (referred to in the study as emerging countries).

Some of the negative repercussions employees said they’d experienced or believed they would experience for using work-life programs:

  • Being given unfavorable job assignments
  • Receiving negative performance reviews
  • Receiving negative comments from a supervisor
  • Being denied a promotion
  • Being excluded from consideration for career-advancing assignments, and
  • Having their commitment to their job questioned.

Of course none of that was your intent when you created work-life programs. It’s clear to most HR/Benefits pros that such programs can help recruit top talent, retain talent, improve morale and ramp up productivity.

Disconnect with management

The problem, according to the study, may be that executives/managers/supervisors aren’t on the same page as HR/Benefits.

More than a quarter (28%) of executives/managers/supervisors polled in the U.S., U.K. and Germany said employees who use flexible work arrangements will not advance very far in this organization — likely leading them to discourage workers from using work-life programs.

In addition:

  • 54% of execs/managers/supervisors said the ideal employee is available to meet business needs regardless of business hours
  • 40% said the most productive employees are those without a lot of personal commitments
  • 26% said women who are highly committed to their personal/family lives cannot be highly committed to their work, and
  • 25% said men who are highly committed to their personal/family lives cannot be highly committed to their work.

Info: Download a PDF of the study here.

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  1. I really cannot believe that people still think that you cannot balance Home and work and have committment to both. I am a 24/7 Female manager. I have to take calls at any time and responde if necessary… Does that make me less committed to my family?? I think not. If we have a special occasion or a trip I MAKE ARRANGEMENTS to cover my job duties while I spend time with family. If the one covering my job has questions I can text or email. Most people can from the phone intheir hand now.

    Does this mean I am not “AS DEDICATED” and should not be considered for a promotion?

  2. And it is very unfortunate, but the data seems if not perfectly accurate but indeed reflecting the common view. Although benefits, work-life balance programs and wellness programs were created, in theory, to attract the best talent, to boost morale and productivity, in reality however, they were were not created to be used! they were created as a “show off” only so employee comes on board all excited bragging what his/her company provides. In reality, if anyone would put family first or at least at the same level as work is, consequences are as mentioned above. Awful approach, but real. The truth is we work 8 long hours a day + lunch, long commute. As a basic human right we are entitled to sleep and rest a little. We don’t merry a job, job will not be there when we are sick, or have accident!!! executives will not make you cup of tea when you break your leg, it’s the family that stays. Well I think that those who require to put work first are simply very unhappy people who want to denied someone what they wish they had

  3. This article reminded me of a conversation I had with my sister last week. Her first child just started school this year and her company has (in writing) a wonder flexable work schedule. She met with HR just before school started to ask that she change her schedule to work with her daughters school pick-up/drop-off times. Her manager had already approved her request: Come in 15 minutes earlier & leave 15 minutes earlier. Most of us wouldn’t even discuss things like this with HR if our manager had already approved it but because she is part of a pool of legal secretaries she was told to have HR approve it.

    HR’s response: “No, Your husband will need to step up and handle this. If I let you do this then I’ll look like a push over and I’ll have to let everyone do it.”

    I told my sister to look for another job!!!

  4. DL, what an awful story! and this is exactly what I’ve meant by “show off” benefit system; that is “we have it on paper, but not for utilizing” and all about 15 minutes?!

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