Creating a life that works in the flexible job age?

To be delivered by Professor Ellen Ernst Kossek

University Distinguished Professor, School of Human Resources and Labor Relations, Michigan State University

The Hawke Centre logoWednesday 14 July 2010

AUDIO transcript available here  (20KB mp3 format)


Jointly presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre; the School of Management and the Centre for Work + Life, UniSA and supported by SafeWork SA Work Life Balance Strategy

In the age of 24-7 work, mobile phones, smart phones, texting and growing family obligations, we increasingly struggle with how to manage work-life relationships. Many of us need help in thinking about what is currently working well in the area of work-life, to be empowered to be in charge of own lives.

In this talk Professor Ellen Kossek will focus on 'flexstyles' - the different ways that people psychologically manage work-life boundaries. She will draw on her best-selling book: CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age (Wharton School Publishing with B. Lautsch). The talk will explore different approaches to managing in the 24/7 including integrators, separators, or volleyers examining how people attempt to take control of their working lives and to have more positive work-life relationships.

About Professor Ellen Ernst Kossek
Ellen Ernst KossekEllen Ernst Kossek is University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University's School of Human Resources and Labor Relations where she teaches, consults, and conducts research on international human resource management, work/life integration, organizational behavior, organizational change and design, gender and diversity, globalization and multiculturalism, and a wide range of strategic human resource management issues. She is currently the Associate Director of the Center for Work-Family Stress and Health.

Dr. Kossek is the 2008 Sage Scholarship Award Recipient given by the National Academy of Management's Gender and Diversity in Organizations Division. She is an elected Fellow of the American Psychological Association (2002) and the Society of Industrial Organizational Psychology (2001). She has served on the Wharton Work-Life Roundtable. She is a member of the Teaching Resources Board of the Boston College work-family network and a founding co-editor of on line Work-Family Encyclopedia.

She has authored 8 books: CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age, Managing Human Resources in the 21st Century: From Core Concepts to Strategic Choice (2000,Southwestern), Managing Diversity: Human Resource Strategies for Transforming the Workplace (1996, Blackwell), Child Care Challenges for Employers (1991, LRP), and The Acceptance of Human Resource Innovation: Lessons for Managers (1989, Quorum). She recently edited two books on work and family: Work And Life Integration: Organizational, Cultural and Psychological Perspectives (with S. Lambert) and The Handbook Of Work-Family: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives, Methods, and Approaches (with Pitt-Catsouphes and Sweet). She has taught managers from Japan, Korea, the U.K., and Eastern and Western Europe on the role of human resource management strategies in organizational change.

Additional reading

How to Draw a Line Between Work and Home

Thoughtful guidance for a sustainable life, December 27, 2007 By Amy Tiemann creator of (Chapel Hill, NC USA)
CEO of Me"CEO of Me" takes a 360 degree look at flexibility and comes up with thoughtful advice for all workers. The authors keep an eye on developing a sustainable work-life "flexstyle" and acknowledge that there are many ways to achieve that goal. They look at the major styles of being an Integrator, Separator, or Volleyer and highlight the strengths and challenges of each approach. A major strength of "CEO of Me" is getting each reader to look beyond our habits or assumptions (I had to challenge my assumption that "work-life integration is always good") to consciously explore alternatives that might work better.

A second strength is the ongoing acknowledgment that a sense of control is essential to a worker's happiness. Any of the styles can feel like a trap if a worker is forced into either too much separation or integration. "Captives," who are forced to separate work and personal lives, are portrayed as the most conflicted, stressed, and unhappy workers (a conclusion borne out by work-life research).

It's the age of flexible jobs, a trend sure to continue into the future, and I love that "CEO of Me" talks about this development applying to men and women, parents and single people. Many suggestions for individual action and workplace advocacy come together to create a very strong book.

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our cultural diversity - and building our future.