American Work Life Balance Alliance
An Alliance for American workers, families, and businesses
The Framework for American Work life Balance (FAWLB), offers a roadmap for policymakers and the public on how we can begin to fix and increase work life balance in the U.S.
Today, the challenges of balancing work and family are ubiquitous. Across the United States, American families and businesses are trying to solve the many problems caused by poor work life balance.
For American families and businesses the problems are the same. They face problems of quality. For families, quality of life goes down with low or inadequate work life balance, and for businesses, quality of work and productivity goes down when employees have poor work life balance.
As we continue to rebuild our workforce and economy, now is the time for policymakers to come together on measures and legislation to keep our American families and businesses healthy and strong.
Since American families and businesses are both significantly affected by work life balance issues, they make good partners and ideal leaders for change.
As a nation, we must urgently address poor work life balance in the U.S. because the health and strength of American families and businesses is inextricably tied to our full economic recovery and GDP growth.
The FAWLB is:
In order to fix our work life balance problems and serve American families and businesses in an expeditious way, we must prioritize and focus our efforts on the following core principles:
Economic growth must be a focus of any work life balance measure or bill because widespread poor work life balance in the American workforce puts a significant strain on the U.S. economy and inhibits growth.
Poor work life balance stifles economic growth across the board for families, businesses and the U.S. economy. Together, the shared underlying problem is loss.
“Nationally, the cost of lost earnings, productivity, and revenue due to inadequate child care resources (just for parents of children under the age of three) totals an estimated $57 billion each year ($37 billion in lost earnings for parents, $13 billion in lost productivity for employers, and $7 billion in lost tax revenue).” (The Work+Life Report 2020 - Care.com)
The needs of remote workers are extremely important because they will make up a larger portion of the American workforce in the future.
Technology has enabled families and businesses more flexibility to operate, which is positive, but flexible work arrangements, especially work-from-home, have escalated tensions between work and family.
Without an adequate national caregiving infrastructure and with high demand among workers for caregiving services, there is a mismatch of needs that causes friction and negative outcomes for both employees and employers.
Furthermore, without enough health, wellness, and self care providers and sufficient access across communities, there is an absence of support that workers require to be energized, focused and productive.
We must fix these inefficiencies now by supporting small and large businesses and expanding the health, wellness, caregiving and self care industries in the U.S. to harmonize the dynamic between work and family.
Addressing these inefficiencies and the needs of remote workers will only become more important as more Americans move to remote work.
“By 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely, an 87% percent increase from pre-pandemic levels.” (2020 Upwork Future Workforce Pulse Report)
The future of work will not only be about an increasing shift to flexible and remote work, but it will also be about managing the large-scale skills shift in the American workforce.
Work life balance legislation, that calls for federal support of small and large businesses that expand health care, mental health, caregiving, and wellness industries to all communities, including underserved communities, can serve as a source of new jobs for the American workforce.
Prior to the pandemic, there was already a growing problem with a skills gap in the labor force. Now, the pandemic has exacerbated this problem and employers will need federal support reskilling, retraining, and career shifting millions of American workers.
Work Life Balance legislation that supports expanding holistic health and wellness access across communities, through expansion of small and large businesses that provide health, wellness, caregiving, and self care services, can create new job openings and new opportunities for American workers in communities across the country.
“The pandemic’s disruption of work will push around 17 million U.S. workers to find new occupations by 2030, according to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report. Even before the pandemic, 70% of employers reported having trouble filling roles because of a skills gap in the labor force.” (Axios, The Long Road to Putting America Back to Work, By Erica Pandey, March 10, 2021.)
Women must be of primary concern, and their needs must be addressed in any work life balance measure. While caregivers today can be men and women, women are predominantly the caregivers in U.S. society. Women take on multiple roles of caregiving and caretaking, including for children, partners, elderly family members and the home.
Work life balance must be fixed and increased for American women because their physical and mental health is compromised by poor work life balance. We need American women healthy and supported so they can be active members of the workforce and help us grow the U.S. economy.
“More than 2.3 million women have now left the labor force since last February. The pandemic has had a lesser impact on men, even though they outnumber women in the U.S. labor force...” (Maria Aspen, Fortune, February 5, 2021)
Early childhood development is fundamental for our children’s holistic health and wellness, but it is also important for our nation’s future. We need to focus our efforts on teaching American children all the skills they need to be successful today and tomorrow.
Cognitive, emotional and physical development of young children ages 0-5 is critical because it lays the foundation for their future, as well as our country’s future. The U.S. needs young people with nurtured healthy minds and bodies to solve the complex problems of tomorrow.
“Investing in the early years is one of the smartest things a country can do to eliminate extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and create the human capital needed for economies to diversify and grow. Early childhood experiences have a profound impact on brain development—affecting learning, health, behavior and ultimately, income. An increasingly digital economy places even greater premiums on the ability to reason, continually learn, effectively communicate and collaborate.” (The World Bank)
Child care is central to work life balance because it helps in multiple ways. Licensed child care providers help our children learn, grow and thrive, and they also enable parents to focus, be productive and get to work.
Child care providers must be supported and their industry must be expanded across the U.S. to ensure all communities have access to child care for young children. By supporting child care providers and their industry, the U.S. will be able to get more Americans back to work and increase our chances of full economic recovery and GDP growth.
“More than half of Americans—51 percent—live in neighborhoods classified as child care deserts...Child care deserts have, on average, maternal labor force participation rates that are 3 percentage points lower than those of communities where there is adequate child care supply.” (Rasheed Malik, Katie Hamm, Leila Schochet, Cristina Novoa, Simon Workman, and Steven Jessen-Howard, Center for American Progress)
Parental, family and medical leave are essential to fixing poor work life balance in the U.S., and they are meaningful and effective ways to address the needs of both American families and businesses simultaneously.
Paid leave addresses a critical need of the business community to reduce rates of attrition and turnover. It also enables workers to be attentive to their individual health needs, the needs of their family members and increases their workplace satisfaction.
With workplace satisfaction, Americans are able to increase their focus, productivity, creativity, and executive functioning. Therefore, paid leave for American workers leads to increased growth and prosperity for families, businesses and the U.S. economy.
“A more inclusive paid family leave policy would recognize that employee productivity—another driver of economic growth—depends on workers having flexibility to deal with life’s caregiving challenges. Paid leave is often framed as a social issue. But to the extent that it boosts labor force participation or productivity, it should be seen as an economic policy lever.” (By Isabel V. Sawhill, Richard V. Reeves, and Sarah Nzau, Brookings, June 27, 2019)
Mental health providers are critical to fixing poor work life balance in the U.S., and widely accessible mental health resources across communities, including underserved communities, will be necessary to address widespread poor mental health in the workforce.
Policymakers must address mental health in the workforce because these unresolved problems compromise the health, energy and productivity of American workers.
Mental health providers and their industry must be supported to increase access across communities. Expanded mental health care access will improve employee health and wellness and lead to greater focus and employee productivity, which is good for American families, businesses and the U.S. economy.
“Among their major findings is that the total economic burden of major depressive disorder is now estimated to be $210.5 billion per year, representing a 21.5% increase from $173.2 billion per year in 2005. Of particular interest is that nearly half (48%-50%) of these costs are attributed to the workplace, including absenteeism (missed days from work) and presenteeism (reduced productivity while at work).” (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Greenberg, Fournier, Sisitsky, Pike, and Kessler, February 2015).
The experience of being a caregiver and the associated stress and struggle of having to balance work, life, and caregiving is a common, yet unaddressed, problem in our workforce. Caregivers are parents, foster parents, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, experts and professionals that care for a loved one or a family’s loved one.
Being a quality caregiver requires a lot of physical, mental and emotional endurance and strength. In order to ensure caregivers are operating at peak performance levels, they need adequate access to health and wellness options for self care to rejuvenate and re-energize.
In order to support the holistic health and wellness of caregivers, small business health and wellness experts need to be supported and their industry must be expanded to address the self care needs of caregivers in all communities.
Furthermore, mental health providers need to be supported and their industry must be expanded to address the emotional needs of caregivers in all communities.
By supporting the holistic health and wellness of caregivers at the national level, we can expand access to programs, resources and services to all communities and ensure quality care for our loved ones from healthy and happy caregivers.
"In the last decade, the cost to U.S. businesses of lost productivity due to informal caregiving for children and the elderly was $82.2 billion annually, reflecting absenteeism, shifts from full-time to part-time work, replacing employees, and workday adjustments." (The Work + Life Report 2020, Care @ Work by Care.com)
Small business owners are an important segment of the American workforce and business community. They play a significant role in local economies across the country and our national economy. As such, any work life balance measure or bill should address the needs of small businesses owners, including work life balance resources and measures that will help them be healthy, be productive, and grow their business.
Being a small business owner can be difficult and inefficiencies associated with poor work life balance, like insufficient productivity and high turnover, stifles growth and consequently the health and strength of American small businesses.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy: they create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness. A new report shows that they account for 44 percent of U.S. economic activity...While their contribution has grown at a slower rate than that of large businesses, small businesses continue to be at the forefront of driving innovation, jobs and economic growth." (U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, January 30, 2019)
The need to solve poor work life balance in the U.S. is more urgent than ever. Stress and burnout prevail in the workforce, and uncertainty and loss prevail in small and large businesses. Americans are looking to policymakers and asking, how do we start to address these issues and fix these significant problems?
The American Work Life Balance campaign is intended to help Americans answer this critical question. The overall purpose of the campaign is to overcome political disunity and jumpstart this absolutely necessary process to fix and increase work life balance in the U.S.
Our mission is to make American workers, families, and businesses healthy and strong.
Sign up to help us fix and increase American work life balance.