Employee Benefit Views

Congressional staffers seek greater work-life balance — really?

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Posted November 7, 2012 by By Kelley M. Butler at 04:10PM. Comments (2)

 

Just a quick election postscript: Whether they are freshman lawmakers or returning to Congress for yet another term, U.S. House and Senate members may want to consider addressing workplace flexibility right along with the fiscal cliff. A research report by the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management shows that fewer than one in four congressional staffers are satisfied with the flexibility afforded them. 
The report — “Life in Congress: Aligning Work and Life in the U.S. House and Senate” — shows that 55% of congressional staff members say the flexibility to balance life and work issues is very important. At the same time, only 26% of them are very satisfied with the flexibility they get at work. When asked about reasons they would leave their work in Congress, 38% cited “seeking a better balance between work and personal life.”
“Like their counterparts in the private sector, Capitol Hill staff members value flexible work options. Congressional staff — and Congress itself — would benefit from access to flexible workplace practices, including flex time, telecommuting and more choices about how they manage their time,” says Lisa Horn, co-project director of SHRM’s workplace flexibility initiative.
The research also shows Congressional staffers report working 53 hours a week when Congress is in session.
Five words in that sentence jumped out at me: when Congress is in session. This year, that accounted for about 109 days, with just 12 over the last three months — compared to about 260 annual work days for the average American full-time employee. 
Now, if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m a big proponent of work-life balance http://ebn.benefitnews.com/blog/ebviews/is-rowe-right-for-all-2685223-1.html. That said, if I only had to work 12 days in three months the last thing I’d be complaining about is work-life balance. Just saying. 
What do you think? Is work-life balance a more/less valid concern, depending on the industry and/or type of work? Like, if you’re a full-time cupcake taster, do you need more work-life balance than, say, a lumberjack? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Just a quick election postscript: Whether they are freshman lawmakers or returning to Congress for yet another term, U.S. House and Senate members may want to consider addressing workplace flexibility right along with the fiscal cliff. A research report by the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management shows that fewer than one in four congressional staffers are satisfied with the flexibility afforded them. 

The report — “Life in Congress: Aligning Work and Life in the U.S. House and Senate” — shows that 55% of congressional staff members say the flexibility to balance life and work issues is very important. At the same time, only 26% of them are very satisfied with the flexibility they get at work. When asked about reasons they would leave their work in Congress, 38% cited “seeking a better balance between work and personal life.”

“Like their counterparts in the private sector, Capitol Hill staff members value flexible work options. Congressional staff — and Congress itself — would benefit from access to flexible workplace practices, including flex time, telecommuting and more choices about how they manage their time,” says Lisa Horn, co-project director of SHRM’s workplace flexibility initiative.

The research also shows Congressional staffers report working 53 hours a week when Congress is in session.

Five words in that sentence jumped out at me: when Congress is in session. This year, that accounted for about 109 days, with just 12 over the last three months — compared to about 260 annual work days for the average American full-time employee. 

Now, if you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m a big proponent of work-life balance. That said, if I only had to work 12 days in three months the last thing I’d be complaining about is work-life balance. Just saying. 

What do you think? Is work-life balance a more/less valid concern, depending on the industry and/or type of work? Like, if you’re a full-time cupcake taster, do you need more work-life balance than, say, a lumberjack? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

2 Comments

Posted by: Robert M | November 12, 2012 3:49 PM

Only problem is you are assuming the staffers don't work when Congress is out. Not actually the case. The staff the offices daily for constituent service and the like....

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Posted by: Bethany G | November 12, 2012 6:42 AM

"Just saying" is right! Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't want to work in Congress, no matter how many days/hours were required. But seriously - get real. Raise your hand if you average at least 53hrs/wk at work. I saw a report about congressional aids making $30K-$40K...not great wages, but when you work less than half the days most of us work, it's hard for me to feel sorry for your work life balance.

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