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Individuals Are Complicit in Work-Life Flexibility Failure, Say Workplace and Academic Experts

NEW YORK, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – For years, the mandates for more work life flexibility were directed at organizations and management, but workplace and academic experts say the boss or company are no longer the ones to solely blame for flexibility failure. Increasingly the challenge is for risk-averse employees, especially in the current economic climate, to focus less on sweeping transformative change and instead make small every day shifts in work style.

"We've spent nearly the last two decades calling out the companies and management for the need for work life flexibility.  Many have responded, but now employees also need to step up and assert control by making small, subtle, practical choices that no one will notice but them," explains Cali Williams Yost (www.worklifefit.com), a leading thinker on workplace issues and author of the just published Tweak It: Make What Matters To You Happen Every Day (January 2013/Center Street/Hachette).

Adds Brad Harrington, Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Boston College Center for Work and Family, "For over 20 years, our Center has stressed the importance of organizational culture, the right types of management support, and the most effective human resource policies and programs needed to facilitate work life fit. But I have always stressed my belief that ultimately it is the individual who must solve this problem, must determine their fit, and must manage the process of achieving it."

But according to research Yost conducted with ORC International nearly 75 percent of the population believes that work life flexibility is only possible if their employer and/or boss provide it.  Employees do not feel empowered and are stressed by increased workloads and lack of time, the most cited obstacles to work life flexibility in Yost's research.

Both Yost and Harrington agree the workplace has become more supportive, offering flexibility programs and policies that help employees manage life's major transitions such as parenthood and illness. But for many, it's unrealistic to regularly work from home, have a compressed or reduced schedule, or take advantage of some other formal flexibility offering.  Even so, that doesn't mean work life fit has to be a lost cause or failed resolution.

"Major life events matter," explains Yost, "but it's the everyday routine we crave and where employees struggle the most with managing work life fit.  We can't wait for HR or the boss to solve this conflict for us.  Employees themselves need to manage work life fit as a daily practice.  And while it may be counterintuitive, it starts by thinking small – by yes, sweating the 'small stuff.'"

During the nearly two decades that Yost has advised hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals, she has observed a small segment of the population that she calls the work+life fit "naturals" – the envied few who seemingly fit all of the pieces of their personal and professional lives together with ease while the majority of us continue to struggle.

"The 'naturals' make small, consistent changes in how, when and where they manage their work and their lives," Yost says.  "There is no scary, bold, disruption.  No one-size-fits-all balance that is never achieved.  Instead they 'tweak', taking granular deliberate actions that over time build the foundation for a successful work life fit that collectively transforms their performance on and off the job."

In her new book Tweak It (www.worklifefit.com/book), Yost uncovers the secrets of the work life fit naturals and describes four simple steps that surprisingly few of us follow to ensure that what matters to us happens with the competing demands of work and life.  These include merging our work and life calendars and to do lists so that we have a complete picture to guide daily decision making, progress tracking and fine tuning.

"Yost's latest contribution to the field provides individuals with a simple yet elegant way to take hold of their lives and in doing so, achieve their personal and professional goals," notes Harrington.  "Tweak It illustrates vividly how small changes can have a big impact on the quality of our lives and work."

Yost will share her insights and more on this "downsized" approach to work life flexibility at several noteworthy 2013 conferences including the American Psychological Association's 2013 Work & Wellbeing Conferences, South by Southwest, and Invent Your Future.

Cali Williams Yost is the CEO and Founder of The Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., a strategic advisory firm located in Madison, NJ that helps people and business partner for flexible work success.  www.flexstrategygroup.comhttp://www.worklifefit.com/bookhttp://www.worklifefit.com/download-bio

Boston College Center for Work and Family, since 1990, has helped organizations create effective workplaces that support and develop healthy and productive employees.

Contact: Pam Kassner, Email, 414-510-1838