A new survey reports on employer and employee perceptions of work-life balance and flexible working.
It notes that 67% of employers feel workers have work-life balance, while nearly half (45%) of employees disagree. Similarly, while 50% of employers ranked workplace flexibility as the most important benefit they believe their employees desire, it was the highest priority for 75% of employees.
It also found that 65% of employees are expected to be reachable outside of the office. A similar number of employers (64%) reported that they expect their employees to be reachable outside of the office on their personal time.
Reporting on new data from the Netherlands, this article notes that flex workers are less satisfied with their jobs and lives than those with permanent working contracts. Flex workers are less satisfied with their pay, training and career opportunities when compared to permanent staff.
It goes on to note that while in 2002 80% of workers had permanent working contracts within six to ten years of entering the workforce, that has now extended to between ten and fifteen years.
New research finds that though 97% of UK workplaces offer at least one form of flexible working, including job sharing, flexitime and working remotely, over the past six years there had not been great increases in take-up. Furthermore, only 19% of working women in the UK were able to vary the hours they work, this is compared to 41% in Sweden.
Only 23%, or just over 1 in 5, UK workers have submitted requests for flexible working since the government legislation was introduced six months ago.
Research from O2 business shows that while 54% of workers were aware of their right to flexible working, there remain barriers to their taking advantage of it. Issues cited included lack of trust (31%), business culture (28%) and a lack of resources to work outside the office (28%).
Dr. Jade S. Jenkins is currently the academic assessment coordinator at Texas A&M – Texarkana. She earned her Ph.D in social and industrial-organizational psychology from Northern Illinois University, and her research interests include occupational health psychology, stereotypes, and the self . Here she writes about how those who utilize family-friendly policies may face stigma from colleagues and managers.Continue reading →
This report starts by noting that there is a ‘significant’ gap in male and female employment across Europe. It argues that this means economies are failing to utilise their full potential. In particular it highlights:
Low rates of female employment, which effects economic output.
A high prevalence of women working below their ‘qualification grade’, which might have effects in terms of a sub-optimal allocation of skills across an economy.
Underemployment in terms of hours – particularly a persistent yet variable gap in working hours between men and women across typical life phases, which raises issues of productivity, staff retention and recruitment costs at the level of the firm.
The report looks at how flexible working options may play a part in addressing such negative outcomes. Furthermore, it also examines the challenges and opportunities that increased flexible working might offer. Findings include:
Increased part-time work and employee schedule control can be associated with an increased female employment rate.
The concentration of part-time work in low-level jobs may increase the tendency for women to work in occupations below their skill level.
Part-time work is often the main flexible working option, possibly leading to: unnecessarily low average working hours among new mothers, and mothers’ average working hours continuing to remain low throughout their careers.
High-levels of demand for a larger range of flexible working options among working women.
This article reports data from a new survey of working men. It notes that informal flexibility arrangements are much more prevalent, with 66% reporting ad-hoc arrangements. Only 29% reported having regularly scheduled flexible working arrangements.
The author suggests that the prevalence of informal arrangements may be a boon as it normalise flexible working. This may encourage more employees to take advantage of flexible working with reduced workplace stigma, and spur employers and employees to embrace flexibility in the future.
Flexible working may not reduce gender inequality but, rather, exacerbate it.
Forthcoming research, based in the United States, found that men were significantly more likely to have similar flexible working requests granted than women.
Christin Munsch, one of the report authors suggests that such results demonstrate the importance of cultural influences on gender norms: women who make flexible working requests to look after children are viewed as both bad mothers and bad employees, and are punished for their perceived failings.
The authors suggest that there needs to be a cultural shift in attitudes to gender and work for flexible working to be successful in tackling workplace inequalities.
90% of employees agreed that having more choice in working arrangements improves morale
35% of employees felt that people who work flexibly create more work for others
The availability of flexible working was important for 41% of employees when they made their decision to work for their current employer.
Those with flexible working arrangements were more likely to work long hours, suggesting that such practices facilitate greater labour market involvement.
Tipping, Sarah; Chanfreau, Jenny; Perry, Jane; Tait, Claire (2012) The Fourth Work-Life Balance Employee Survey, Employment Relations Research Series 122, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills