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Survey: Financial and Job Insecurities Not Biggest Obstacles to Work-Life Flexibility

During the recession, about nine out of 10 respondents said their use of work life flexibility either increased (11 percent) or stayed the same (76 percent).

June 13, 2011
Related Topics: Strategy and Management
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Madison, N.J. — June 13

Just as employees have gotten comfortable with the idea of work life flexibility, worrying less about the impact it has on their paychecks or careers, new research shows increased workloads or no time are now the biggest obstacles. The finding is from the 2011 Work+Life Fit Reality Check, a telephone survey of a national probability sample of 637 full-time employed adults, sponsored by Work+Life Fit Inc. and conducted March 3-7 by Opinion Research Corp.

The current Work+Life Fit Reality Check found:

  • During the recession, about nine out of 10 respondents said their use of work life flexibility either increased (11 percent) or stayed the same (76 percent).
  • While in the recovery, nine out of 10 felt their level of use of work life flexibility would increase (10 percent) or stay the same (82 percent).
  • Compared to this time last year, more than eight out of 10 report they have the same (66 percent) or an increased amount (17 percent) of work life flexibility.
  • Without work life flexibility, 66 percent believe the business suffers with employee health, morale and productivity as the most affected areas.
  • Looking for a new job is the plan for more than one-third (35 percent); 33 percent of those cite a more flexible schedule and 25 percent the ability to telework as a reason. (Job search questions sponsored by CareerOwners.com.)

"Whatever flexibility there was before the downturn survived, indicating it is here to stay in good times and bad. Work life flexibility withstood its toughest test and continues to grow," said Cali Williams Yost, CEO, Work+Life Fit Inc. "But just when employees start to worry less about using flexibility, now they think they're too busy to do so. Clearly, both organizations and employees struggle with how to make flexibility work as a meaningful and deliberate part of the way we manage our business, work and lives."

Fewer respondents report obstacles to using or improving their work life flexibility - 61 percent in 2011 compared to 76 percent in 2006. The most-cited (29 percent) obstacle in 2011 was "increased workload or no time for flexibility." But, despite going through one of the worst economic recessions ever, financial and perception worries have progressively become less problematic.

  • You might make less money: 21 percent in 2011 versus 45 percent in 2006.
  • You might lose your job: 16 percent in 2011 versus 28 percent in 2006.
  • Others will think you don't work hard: 11 percent in 2011 versus 39 percent in 2006.
  • You worry that your boss would say "no": 13 percent in 2011 versus 32 percent in 2006.

"These findings are proof that the workplace has become more comfortable with flexibility. The challenge is to continue to address roadblocks that often unnecessarily hinder how we optimize and benefit from flexibility personally and organizationally," Yost said. "Flexibility should be used to manage increased workflows and dwindling resources, not be avoided because of them."

Otherwise, 66 percent of those surveyed indicated the possible risks that result from a lack of work life flexibility.

  • Health is affected - you're stressed or lack time for exercise: 48 percent.
  • Morale is affected - you don't feel good about working at your company or organization: 41 percent.
  • Productivity is affected - you can't get your work done as fast as you like: 36 percent.
  • Focus and attention, or engagement, is affected – you can't concentrate the way you would like to on your work: 34 percent.
  • Loyalty is affected - you're not as committed to your employer and/or boss: 34 percent.
  • Creativity is affected - you have a harder time problem solving or coming up with new ideas: 31 percent.

"Organizations and employees must move forward together, taking a hard look at what, how, when and where work is best performed; how technology can support - not overwhelm - that work; and why they should champion flexibility as an operational and financial tool. The time has passed for seeing flexibility simply as a perk offered at certain ideal times," Yost said.

Source:Work+Life Fit

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