National Study of the Changing Workforce
The National Study of the Changing Workforce (NSCW), originated by FWI and now a SHRM study, is the only ongoing study of its kind or scale, providing valuable, timely information on the work and personal/family lives of the U.S. workforce. Conducted approximately every five years, the NSCW provides 30-year trend data (from 1977 to 2008) of life on and off the job. The study is widely used by policy makers, employers, the media and others interested in the widespread impacts of the changing conditions of work and home life. Data from this study informs many of FWI’s ahead-of-the-curve reports, including:
- Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and at Home
The report reveals two striking trends about gender and generation when the study is compared to data from 1992. First, for the first time since questions about responsibility in the workplace have been asked, women and men under 29 years old did not differ in their desire for jobs with more responsibility. Second, the study demonstrates that long-term demographic changes are the driving force behind gender and generational trends at work and at home.
- Time and Workplace Flexibility
Using data from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, this report identifies how important flexibility options are to today’s employee. The report focuses on six measures of workplace flexibility and determines how accessible these flexibility options are, who is using them, and how they can bolster both employee job satisfaction and employer productivity. Flexibility options have different outcomes and appeal to varied segments of the employee population; the report addresses these differences by revealing which options are most attractive to various populations and which options influence employee engagement, job satisfaction, and turnover rates.
- The New Male Mystique
The NSCW finds that men now experience more work-family conflict than women. Since that finding was released in 2009, it has generated a great deal of attention and speculation. This paper is the first to take the same data set and conduct an in-depth exploration of the underlying reasons behind men’s rising work-family conflict. In essence, we have uncovered what we term the “new male mystique.” We find that although men live in a society where gender roles have become more egalitarian and where women contribute increasingly to family economic well-being, men have retained the “traditional male mystique”—the pressure to be the primary financial providers for their families. As such, men who are fathers work longer hours than men the same age who don’t live with a child under 18. However, men are also much more involved in their home lives than men in the past, spending more time with their children and contributing more to the work of caring for their homes and families. In other words, men are experiencing what women experienced when they first entered the workforce in record numbers—the pressure to “do it all in order to have it all.” We term this the new male mystique.
- The State of Health in the American Workforce: Does Having an Effective Workplace Matter?
This report focuses on the decrease in quality of health reported by employees from 2002 to 2008 in the National Study of the Changing Workforce. The report states which health issues have become more pervasive and which demographic groups are most affected. The report identifies the many aspects of health related to workplace outcomes and identifies which health issues are linked to negative workplace outcomes, such as high turnover and low employee engagement. Finally, the study recommends various policy changes employers can make that will promote employee wellness and, ultimately, result in a more effective workforce.
- Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon
Working in retirement has become an increasingly common practice among Americans over 50. This study, using data from the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, answers questions about what it means to be “working in retirement,” who is doing so and why. It identifies differences between workers who are working in retirement and their age-peers who have not yet retired. The study identifies which criteria are indicators of job satisfaction for each of these groups and makes recommendations about how to retain individuals who are working in retirement.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Elder Care Study: Everyday Realities and Wishes for Change
Elder care is an issue that increasingly affects today’s worker and today’s family. This report uses nationally representative data on the U.S. workforce to examine how much of working caregivers’ time is consumed by elder care, what level of support they receive from employers and the demographics of this growing population of Americans with simultaneous work and caregiving responsibilities. The quantitative analysis is accompanied by follow-up interviews with caregivers to underscore the complexities of taking care of an elderly loved one—from communicating with health professionals to balancing work responsibilities to dealing with unavoidable changes in the parent-child relationship.
- Making Work “Work”
Published in 2007, this guide highlights the successful flexibility practices of the 2006 Alfred P. Sloan Award Winners. The guide offers insightful stories and tips from managers and employees of winning companies on how companies can use flexible practices to help employees and increase their bottom line. The guide covers different forms of workplace flexibility, five new bold ideas for integrating flexibility, and tips on how to get started.
- 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce: List of Variables
- Highlights of the National Study of the Changing Workforce
The study is widely used by policy makers, employers, the media, and all those interested in the widespread impacts of the changing conditions of work and home life.
- Highlights of the National Study of the Changing Workforce: Executive Summary
- Supporting Entry-Level, Hourly Employees (brief 1)
Supporting Entry-Level, Hourly Employees is a project on low-wage and low-income employees—employees whose earnings fall in the bottom 25 percent of the earnings distribution. The findings, which use data from the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce, are found in three parts. The first research brief, What do we Know About Entry-Level, Hourly Employees, explores general themes about low-wage employers, such as the demographics of the population and characteristics of their employers.
- How Can Employers Increase the Productivity and Retention of Entry-Level, Hourly Employees? (brief 2)
The second research brief, How Can Employers Increase the Productivity and Retention of the Entry-Level, Hourly Employees, concludes that creating more effective workplaces positively affects low-wage employees as much as or even more than employees with higher incomes.
- What Workplace Flexibility is Available to Entry-Level, Hourly Employees? (brief 3)
The third research brief, What Workplace Flexibility is Available to Entry-Level, Hourly Employees?, reveals that low-income employees have access to fewer flexibility options. Most importantly, flexible options were equally or more beneficial to low-income employees than to employees with higher incomes. Employees with more flexible workplaces were more satisfied with their jobs, and more committed to and engaged in their jobs.
- Context Matters: Insights About Older Workers from the National Study of the Changing Workforce
This report is the first research brief discussing findings from the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce on the work experiences of men and women 50 years and older. The study found that the employment situation of older workers—small business owners, self-employed workers, and wage and salary employees—significantly affects whether a worker remains or leaves the workforce. The findings of the study imply that in order for employers to recruit and retain older employees they should consider creating work environments that have parallels with self-employment and business ownership situations. This can be achieved through flexible work options, job autonomy, and learning opportunities.
- The Diverse Employment Experiences of Older Men and Women in the Workforce
This report compares and contrasts the experiences of men and women in the U.S. workforce who are 50 years old and older. The data in the report is from the 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce. It is important to study the Baby Boomer Generation because it is likely to change our ideas about work and retirement. The study found that older women earn only 55 cents for every dollar that men earn from all hours worked at all jobs. The findings suggest that policy makers should evaluate ways to minimize the impact of the disadvantages that older women may have encountered in the workplace because they may jeopardize their transitions into retirement.
Additional NSCW Reports
- Generation and Gender in the Workplace
This report explores whether expected differences between generations are indeed supported by data from the 1992, 1997 and 2002 National Study of the Changing Workforce, and the 1977 Quality of Employment Survey. Researchers found that members of the baby boomer generation are more likely to be work-centric than other generations while members of the Gen-X and Gen-Y generations are more likely to be either dual- or family-centric. The report also looks at the effects of being dual- or family-centric, people’s drive for job advancement, and how many hours people want to work.