01/09/2013 05:47 pm ET Updated Mar 11, 2013

2013 Will Be the Year of the Working Man

When so many of us think about work-life issues the image that often comes to mind is that of a working mother. Well, 2013 will hopefully see an end to that as more and more working men start fighting for their own piece of the work-life pie.

That according to Families and Work Institute's team of researchers who closely monitor changing workplaces, families and communities, and based on the Institute's research, global changes, and years of trendspotting they predict this year will bring with it a host of good work news.

The Top 2013 Trends to Watch:

* The Year of Men;
* Health Reform's Impact on Low-Wage Jobs;
* Turnover Explosion and How Workflex Will Stem the Tide.

The Year of Men: The highly read, debated and decried, Atlantic article titled "The End Of Men" pointed to the demise of men as the main breadwinners in the United States as women reached the milestone of half the workforce in 2012. Many men who lost their jobs or saw their hours cut back during the Great Recession took on even more responsibilities at home -- either because they had to or more often than not, because they wanted to -- a trend that our research has been documenting more than a decade. As a result, men found themselves wondering if there's more to life than working all the time. All this, we argue, has not led to the end of men but can and will ultimately lead to more well-rounded male employees as a result, and that's why we're dubbing 2013 "The Year of Men." As more and more employed men are realizing there is more to life than punching a clock -- whether they were forced to come to that realization because they saw their careers hammered during tough economic times -- the future points to better men as they push for work-life fit, as our research shows they seek. The movement to look at work-life issues as not just women's issues will explode this year, thanks to the a new beginning for men.

Health Reform Makes Low-Wage Jobs Better: The health care reform law will bring medical coverage and wellness options to a host of employees who are often unable to access health insurance, most notably the low-wage workforce. That will go a long way in making low-wage jobs better jobs, hopefully helping more individuals to join the middle class someday. The Wall Street Journal's main article on the health care law the day after New Years stated reform will bring "significant change" for employees in low-wage industries such as retail and hospitality. Research shows that today only 65 percent of low-income employees are offered health insurance coverage by their employers versus 87 percent of middle-income employees and 92 percent of high-income employees. But 90 percent of low-income employees say "having good benefits like health insurance" would be "very" or "extremely" important in deciding to take a new job. Such benefits, which support employees' feelings of economic security, are very important for both recruitment and retention. Also, the emphasis on wellness as part of the reform will help low-wage employees, as well as the overall U.S. workforce, which has seen declining health compared with six years ago, according to our research.

Turnover Explosion and Workflex: As the economy improves, it is expected that disgruntled employees will head for the door, making the widening talent gap even wider. But employers will be able to retain their talent if they think about creating better jobs that work for the employer and the employee. Workflex will increasingly be at the top of the list, especially for the aging of the Baby Boomers and Gen Y. During the economic downturn, some major employers opted to reduce, or eliminate, flexible work initiatives but our research shows that may come back to haunt many of those companies in terms of retention and their ability to hire the best and brightest. While others decided to continue, or beefed up their workflex options as our 2012 winners of the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility show. According to the Institute's report titled "The State of Health in the American Workforce: Does Having An Effective Workplace Matter": Work-life fit is the second most important predictor of job satisfaction and intent to stay in one's job. Workflex is not only a boon for employees, but also for employers who can see productivity boosts a as result, not to mention that workflex helps companies survives during emergencies, as recent tragedies such as Hurricane Sandy pointed out. Companies were able to keep their business up and running because they had flexible workplaces, including everything from telework to allowing employees to bring children to work.

What's your take on the trends we'll be watching? What do you have your eye on?