When it comes to finding that elusive work-life balance in Asia, some employees at multinational corporations are having a tough time.
A new survey from Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business, finds that for more than 80% of respondents, there's a gap between the level of workplace flexibility they want and the flexibility they actually get. Workplace flexibility can include working from home, shorter work weeks, etc.
The company surveyed more than 1,800 employees across Asia working at companies including BMO Financial Group, Credit Suisse and Deloitte.
Respondents in China were more likely to be frustrated with the flexibility options offered to them compared with their counterparts in Singapore and India, according to the survey.
There are two main culprits for the mismatch, says Laura Sabattini, director of research at Catalyst. The first is people simply may not be utilizing the programs available to them because they're afraid they will limit their opportunities.
The second, and far harder to address, is the sample companies' practice of applying flex programs at the macro level, instead of tailoring them to individual cultures.
"Companies need to adapt their politics to fit existing standards," Sabattini says. "It requires a targeted approach that takes into account what the culture is."
She gives the example of Singapore, which has an aging population that will face different issues than nearby China. Companies could offer more benefits for taking care of aging parents, for instance.
It may be a while before multinational corporations catch up. Meanwhile, both men and women need to take advantage of the programs out there to ensure their mental health is in as good a shape as their careers.
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