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In the balance

Front page news tends to be gloomy, but especially so when the economy is wobbly or our foreign relationships are on the rocks. Instability of any kind creates divisions within communities and countries.

We fear that our security is threatened and that our children will be sent to fight for our lives and their own. We worry that the economy will sour and that we won't reap the benefits of long hours dedicated to a career (think mortgage crisis, Enron and dot com's).

While recent years have shown a growing concern for a work / life balance, the "Herman Trend Alert" writes that there is a new shift to a life / work balance. "It's a subtle shift, but an important one. People are putting life before work, instead of work before life." Work is still important, but may no longer be the priority.

What does this mean to you as an employer or manager of a restaurant? It means it might become harder to find employees willing to put in on-call hours or work overtime on a Friday night. Money is no longer the motivator it once was. It means that you may face an increase in requests for time off or to change shifts as personal time and family activities take top priority. Complaints are no longer about employees who aren't good workers but about employees who aren't good citizens, as people yearn for shared values and a quality of community within the workplace.

Luckily, the shift should necessitate only a minimal adjustment if you already put people first. Do you listen to employees and ask for their feedback on how you can make their workplace better? Do you offer perks and benefits that employees want, not necessarily that you want to give? Are you a leader or a command-control manager? Do you allow, and even promote flexible scheduling options? Have you created a workplace that is FUN?

Even if we don't see a measurable shift as the "Herman Trend Alert" predicts, if you help nurture the life / work balance in your everyday management and operating philosophy, you'll become an employer of choice within your market. People will compete to come to work for you. Customers will keep coming back to you. And when this happens, at least you have one less thing to worry about in uncertain times.

See also:
Dumb and dumber

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