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Former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has a column on reflecting on new family-friendly policies that are being adopted by some companies, even as Amazon deals with a highly critical New York Times article about an allegedly "punishing" workplace environment.

"Millennials now constitute the largest segment of the American work force," Reich writes. "Many are just forming families, so the new family-friendly policies seem ideally timed. But before we celebrate the dawn of a new era, keep two basic truths in mind.

"First, these new policies apply only to a tiny group considered 'talent' – highly educated and in high demand. They’re getting whatever perks firms can throw at them in order to recruit and keep them."

The second thing to remember about these liberalized policies, Reich writes, "is that relatively few talented millennials are taking advantage of them. They can’t take the time." Because, he says, they are dealing with a basic fact - that "you’re either on the fast track or you’re on a dead-end road." And being on the fast track often means never getting off it.

You can read the entire piece here.
KC's View:
I do think that these are not just business issues ... that there are some cultural issues here that need to be resolved. I think most people would agree that our society is better off when parents actually have the time to be parents (and do things like coach their kids' games, have dinner with them) ... but our society also encourages entrepreneurialism, a solid work ethic, dedication to duty, etc...

It is hard to find a balance for all those. Most people I know spent much of their adult lives trying to figure it out and make it work, some more successfully than others. Some companies support that, some don't ... some always have, and some never did.

But this is not just about the kinds of companies for which we work. It also is about the kinds of lives we wish to lead. And I think it is a positive thing that this week's Amazon workplace story has created so much awareness and conversation.