Published On: Wed, May 2nd, 2012

Study Shows Employers Are Offering Employees More Balanced Work Environments

Employers in the US are offering employees a more balanced work environment by offering incentives such as working from home, working various hours and are willing to pay more for numerous benefits. This, according to a new study released Monday from the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute.

The research found that in the past seven years, many employers have allowed workers more flexibility regarding when and where they work, providing the work is done.

Most significantly, the research found that in 2012, more employers allowed workers to work from home occasionally, whereby flex time was used to take care of personal issues without losing pay.

Highlights of the study included:

  • using flex time and periodically changing start and quitting times within some range of hours (66 percent in 2005 to 77 percent in 2012);
  • taking time off during the workday to attend to important family or personal needs without loss of pay (77 percent in 2005 to 87 percent in 2012);
  • working some of their regular paid hours at home on an occasional basis (34 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2012); and
  • having control over their paid and unpaid overtime hours (28 percent in 2005 to 44 percent in 2012).

However, opportunities to work a reduced schedule or take extended leaves away from work have declined. Significant decreases were found in employers allowing at least some of their employees to:

  • return to work gradually after childbirth or adoption (86 percent in 2005 to 73 percent in 2012),
  • take a career break for personal or family responsibilities (73 percent in 2005 to 52 percent in 2012), and
  • move from full-time to part-time work and back again while remaining in the same position or level (54 percent in 2005 to 41 percent in 2012).

“It seems that employers are dealing with the lingering economic instability by trying to accomplish more with fewer people,” said Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of FWI and an author of the study. “Most of the gains allow employees to work longer hours or adjust those hours to care for their personal and family responsibilities while getting their work done. Although some may have expected employers to cut back on flexibility entirely during this economic downturn, we are seeing employers leverage flexibility as they look toward the future.”

“Employers continue to find ways to offer flexibility to their employees, despite economic challenges they may face,” said Henry G. (Hank) Jackson, president and CEO of SHRM. “As we look ahead, it is clear that in order to remain competitive, employers must find ways to offer flexible work options if they want to attract and retain top talent.”

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