National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility
Families and Work Institute has written a series of reports for the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility, the series of forums created to build on the message and momentum from the first White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility that took place in March, 2010. These events were organized and hosted in 2010 and 2011 by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor. With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Ford Foundation, these reports examine the access to, use of, demand for and impact of workplace flexibility in different industries (health care, retail, hospitality/restaurant/tourism, education and manufacturing) and among employees in small organizations who are low-wage/hourly and who are professionals.
- Workplace Flexibility in the United States: A Status Report
This status report reviews key findings from topic-specific reports written for the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility forums, as well as emerging trends in workplace flexibility, common assumptions about flexibility that are not supported by FWI’s findings, and the relationship between flexibility and various outcomes. All of the findings in this report are drawn from FWI’s two nationally representative surveys: the National Study of the Changing Workforce and the National Study of Employers. The research shows that the effect of workplace flexibility is significant across a variety of organizational and employment groups, including retail, manufacturing, health services, hotel, tourism and restaurant industries, as well as low-wage and professional employees and primary and secondary school teachers.
- Workplace Flexibility in Manufacturing Companies
Data from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce reveal that employees in the manufacturing industry are typically less satisfied and engaged with their jobs than employees in other sectors. They currently have significantly less access to work schedule flexibility. Although it seems like offering flexibility in manufacturing sectors is contradictory, this report offers examples and considerable suggestions of best practices in workplace flexibility that are currently being applied in these sectors. Our study found that offering the flexibility (that 80% of manufacturing employees report is very important to them), results in employees who are more satisfied and engaged with their jobs, healthier mentally and physically, and who remain with their employers longer.
- Workplace Flexibility in the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Industry
Flexibility is difficult to obtain in the hospitality, restaurant and tourism industries (HRT), but it is still necessary and possible. This report (drawn from data in the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce and best practices from winners of the Sloan Awards) helps readers tailor flexibility to each different work place and type within these sectors. After examining demographic data, workplace flexibility options and culture (and subsequent feelings and outcomes in the HRT industries), this report concludes that since many HRT employees are satisfied with their jobs as only part-time and transitory careers, more flexibility and responsibility would improve retention in these sectors.
- Workplace Flexibility and Low-Wage Employees
Flexibility as it pertains to the low-wage workforce is a topic that is studied less frequently than flexibility and higher-wage employees. However, in Workplace Flexibility and Low-Wage Employees, FWI finds that while low-wage employees have much less access to many types of flexibility than higher-wage employees, low- and higher-wage employees are equally pressed for time in their personal lives and place equal value on having a flexible workplace. Having greater flexibility on the job substantially reduces differences between low-wage and higher-wage employees in terms of job satisfaction, job engagement, physical and mental health and the likelihood of employees remaining with their current employers. This report explores the extent to which low-wage workers have access to flexibility, the degree to which they use that flexibility, and whether employers who offer flexibility to their low-wage employees benefit from doing so.
- Workplace Flexibility in the Health Services Industry
Using data from the 2008 National Study of Employers and the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, this study reveals that the health service industry is at the forefront of workplace flexibility implementation. Employers in health services are far more likely than employers in other industries to see flexibility as a business tool rather than a favor or a perk. In addition, they are more likely than employers in other industries to use workplace flexibility to attract highly skilled workers, and they provide much more flexibility than other employers. The study looks at the demographics of workers in the health services industry, the types of jobs they have, their health and wellness, the turnover rates and retirement plans, and employers’ efforts towards recruitment and retention, to see if flexibility has affected any of these factors. We find that employers in the health services industry have realized that offering workplace flexibility has helped them remain competitive in a fast-paced industry.
- Workplace Flexibility Among Small Employers
This report addresses the many assumptions that prevail about workplace flexibility at smaller organizations by answering five key questions about its prevalence, use, demand, ease of accessibility and its influence on job satisfaction/retention. The study separates small employers (50-499) from larger employers (500+) to better understand where flexibility programs exist and which types of employees have access to them. Using data from both the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce and the 2008 National Study of Employers, researchers determined that there is more workplace flexibility in small organizations than presumed, but less than in larger organizations.
- Retail Industry Employees and Turnover
Despite the belief that retail work allows for easy transitions between jobs, data from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce reveal that transitioning between employers is not quite so common. Nearly 48% of employees report that they are not “very likely” to find another employer, and indicated that they plan to continue working for the same employer for an average of 11.2 years before looking for change. This report offers an explanation of the initial findings in order to see how intention to change employers varies among retail employees, depending on a variety of different factors and workplace conditions, including several degrees of workplace flexibility.
- Workplace Flexibility Among Professional Employees
In this report, we compare the workplace flexibility options available to professional employees with those available to all other employees in the U.S. workforce. We examine how professionals view working flexibly and highlight differences in demographics and job structures that may account for the ways in which professionals see and use workplace flexibility
options. In addition, we explore significant differences in the flexible work experiences of professional employees by generation.
- Workplace Flexibility Among Elementary and Secondary School Teachers and Other Professionals
This report compares the workplace flexibility options available to elementary and secondary school teachers to professionals in other non-education related industries. It also examines how teachers and other professional employees evaluate their workplace flexibility options and highlights differences in demographics and job structures that may account for the way in which teachers and other professionals view and use their workplace flexibility options.