The latest edition of the National Study of Employers finds that employers are increasing employees’ options for managing when and where they work, while reducing some options that affect how much they work.
The study, which was designed and conducted by the Families and Work Institute and released today by FWI and the Society for Human Resource Management, shows some of the most surprising findings have been around changes in provisions of workplace flexibility since 2005.
Significantly more employers are allowing at least some employees to:
• Use flex time and periodically change starting and quitting times within some range of hours (66 percent in 2005 to 77 percent in 2012).
• Take 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).
• Work some of their regular paid hours at home on an occasional basis (34 percent in 2005 to 63 percent in 2012).
• Have 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).
• 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, said Henry G. 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,” he said.
While there has been a decrease in the maximum length of care-giving leaves for new fathers following childbirth, new adoptive parents and employees caring for seriously ill family members, the study also found that more employers today are providing at least some replacement pay for maternity leave during the period of disability. However, fewer employers are likely to provide full replacement pay than in 2005.
Similarly, employers today are more likely to provide health insurance coverage for full-time employees than in 2005, but 41 percent have asked their employees to pay a larger proportion of the premium for personal health insurance over the past year.
“It is clear that employers continue to struggle with fewer resources for benefits that incur a direct cost,” said Ken Matos, senior director of employment research and practice at FWI and the lead author of the report. “However, they have made it a priority to grant employees access to a wider variety of benefits that fit their individual and family needs and that improve their health and well-being.”