Emory Report
April 16, 2007
Volume 59, Number 27

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April 16, 2007
Work-life balance explored at brown bag forum

by kim urquhart

The question posed by a recent brown bag lunch discussion, “Is Emory Work-Life Friendly?” does not seem to have a simple answer. Indeed, said Senior Vice Provost for Community and Diversity Ozzie Harris, the title was intended to provoke other questions.

“Are we as managers and colleagues aware of what it takes to balance work and life in this new century?” asked Harris.

From concerns about maternity leave to adequate child care options at Oxford College, to how to manage a workplace that has been transformed by technology, the questions from the faculty and staff gathered in Cox Hall April 11 illustrated the diverse range of issues.

“The question depends on individual circumstance,” said panelist Julie Seaman, assistant professor of law. Are you male or female, faculty or staff, exempt or non-exempt? Do you have children? How does the leadership in your school or department view work-life balance?

Seaman said she has found the University “as a whole to be very work-life friendly.” And it is trying to become even more so, said Seaman, a member of the Work-Life Task Force. Co-chaired by Rosemary Magee, vice president and secretary of the University, and Vice President of Human Resources Peter Barnes, the task force is evaluating ways to enhance the work, health and well-being, and family life of Emory’s faculty, staff and students.

“As members of the Emory community, we are committed to the University’s pursuit of knowledge and truth in a work-living environment that enables all persons to strive toward their highest potential,” the group asserts in its mission statement.

Subcommittees are working in the areas of dependent care, faculty recruitment and retention and flexible work options. Health and wellness, work-life stressors and professional development are among the other issues that the task force will be exploring.

The Work-Life Task Force has created an online forum at www.admin.emory.edu/StrategicPlan/WorkLife where community members can voice their opinions. The task force is assessing Emory’s existing strengths and identifying and addressing barriers. The group expects to release a report within the next six months.

“I’m excited about the direction we are moving,” said Seaman, “and about some of the programs Emory already has.” Del King, associate vice president of human resources, pointed out Emory’s “robust” alternate workforce policy; the resources offered through the Faculty Staff Assistance Program; and health and wellness campaigns such as Step Up Emory.

Feedback on work-life issues from public forums such as this one hosted by the president’s commissions, as well as the recommendations of the task force, will help shape Emory’s future as a destination workplace.